Alaska wildlife officials try in vain to help wandering sea lion back to ocean

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-03 13:30:29|Editor: ZD
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SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Wildlife officials in the northwest U.S. state of Alaska have failed to usher back to the ocean a sea lion that has been wandering around a community of Sitka, a city near the Alaska capital of Juneau, for three days.

The adult Steller sea lion, who was first spotted running down a road Friday morning, seemed to have lost his way back to the ocean.

He is now "hiding out in the woods" about 402 meters away from the sea on Japonski Island, an area of Sitka that's separated from downtown by a bridge, the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) quoted an official of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as saying Sunday.

The huge animal, which weighs between 680 kg and 771 kg, appeared to be increasingly stressed and hungry, and spent all Sunday hunkered down in the woods.

"At this point he's likely stressed, dehydrated and hungry," said NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

The NOAA Sunday urged on social media people to stay away from the sea lion and try not to disturb the huge animal.

"NOAA is asking the public to clear the area in Sitka where a male Steller sea lion is in distress, and is hiding in the woods; the incident is drawing onlookers. Please, for your own safety and the well-being of the animal, if you are in the area, leave," NOAA tweeted Sunday evening.

If the sea lion does not return to the ocean on his own, officials are considering calling in a veterinarian Monday to "talk about next steps," including sedating and relocating the animal using heavy equipment, Speegle said.

Scientists are puzzled why the sea lion went astray and meandered hundreds of meters into an inland town on the island, the farthest distance that such a marine animal has ever traveled, which is not a usual occurrence known to humans before.