Seals take over a small town in Canada after ice traps their way back to sea

PHOTO: Seals lie in the snow in the town of Roddickton-Bide Arm, Newfoundland, Canada, in a photo posted to Twitter on Jan. 4, 2019.PlayBrendonFitzPat3/Twitter
WATCH News headlines today: Jan. 10, 2019

A small town in Canada has been invaded by dozens of seals that traveled inland and are now stranded, blocking roads in the community.

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Roddickton-Bide Arm, a town of 999 people, has been swarmed by anywhere from 12 to 50 seals, Cpl. Mark Walsh of the Roddickton Royal Canadian Mounted Police told ABC News.

Garry Stenson, lead scientist for the marine mammals section of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, told ABC News these seals are normally found in open sea.

However, it’s feeding season for the Harp seal, and he believes they traveled into a bay that surrounds Roddickton to feed when ice froze behind them, leaving them trapped.

Because the mammals are not used to swimming under solid ice, Stenson said the seals most likely traveled inland and are now hanging out around the town.

“For animals to be going into bays and then to be caught up by the freeze is not that common, though it’s happened before,” said Stenson. “What makes this particularly different is that it is happening in a town.”

Canadian law states that it is illegal for the public to interfere with marine mammals. Fishery officers have begun catching and releasing the seals into open water, according to a statement from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

While Stenson does not believe the seals will face any serious health issues from being stranded in the town, two seals have already been found dead. Walsh said those seals were believed to have been hit by a car.