Dozens of seals have become stranded in a Canadian town after waters they used to navigate from the ocean froze over.
Police in Roddickton-Bide Arm, Newfoundland, have confirmed that at least two of the 40 or so animals to have become cut off have died – many likely hit by cars.
Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told CBC News that their grey coats blended in with the road, with several drivers having reported near misses.
“It actually feels like we’re being inundated with seals, because there’s seals on the road, there’s seals in people’s driveways, the backyards, the parking lots, the doorways, the businesses,” she said.
“I don’t see that there’s any way that these seals are going to survive unless officers pick them up and literally bring them back to the edge of the ice.
“They’re pitiful to look at. I mean, they haven’t eaten.”
Images posted on social media by local Brendon Fitzpatrick show a number of the animals laying on the roads and on banks of snow, seemingly confused as to what to do.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the seals had been stranded for “a few weeks” and were “probably starving”, having become lost some four or five miles from the ocean.
The seals migrate south from the Arctic in December and tend to gather near shores, harbours and bays, but – with no obvious route back to where they came from – the animals have been moving further and further inland.
While people have become accustomed to seeing the seals while out and about, police have warned locals not to approach them – even if they think they are trying to help.
The local branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has reported several instances of returning seals to the sea, with one having been found near the doors of a hospital blocking an ambulance route.
Posting on Facebook, the force said: “The RCMP and DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) remind the general public that it is illegal to disturb marine mammals and although animals of the wild may appear to be friendly in nature, it is very dangerous to approach or attempt to capture animals without proper equipment.”