30 Dec 2015

Seal of approval for mammal rescuer

1:51 pm on 30 December 2015

A Bay of Plenty man's journey home took an unexpected turn when he had to rescue a seal from a busy highway.

The captured seal in a carrier.

Photo: Supplied

The rescuer was driving his truck on State Highway 29, halfway between Tauranga and Hamilton, yesterday when he was flagged down by a couple who nearly hit the wandering seal.

With a Department of Conservation ranger an hour drive away in Tauranga, he decided to put the seal in the back of his truck and drive over the Kaimai Ranges to meet the ranger there.

But first he had to catch it.

The man, who did not want to be named, said the ranger relayed instructions over the phone while he put a blanket over the seal and, with the help of three others, lifted it on to his ute.

"I stopped halfway and undid the cover to make sure he was all right and he hissed at me and tried to bite me again, so I shut the cover and he was happy enough," he said.

He admitted the situation took him by surprise.

"I didn't relay expect this to happen to be honest. I was just trying to help the animal and stop him from getting out onto the road so there were no car accidents and I wanted to keep everyone safe as well as ensure the least possible harm for the animal. Hopefully he's happy where he's gone to.

"The people who nearly ran him over thought it was a dog at first then they realised it was a seal. They were all pretty surprised to see him."

The man said he had never seen a seal so far inland before, although he had heard of sightings nearby in Okoroire.

The seal was later returned to the ocean.

"I felt like I did do something good. Yeah, I feel pretty good about it."