Three More Successful Gray Seal Rescues for the IFAW

International Fund for Animal Welfare pic
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Image: ifaw.org

Maral Cavner, a founding member of Route 66 Rescue Inc., a no-kill animal shelter in Missouri, is currently studying to become a lawyer. After she receives her law degree, Maral Cavner intends to go into animal law and protect animal rights. As part of her personal and professional commitment to animal welfare, she carefully follows the latest developments around the nation.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has developed an effective system for rescuing gray seals from entanglements in recent years. Entrapments in aquatic hazards are responsible for the deaths of 75 gray seals a year in the United States alone. When a gray seal becomes caught in a net or other obstacle, researchers track it and sedate it with a special dart. This requires great care, as seals often swim close enough to touch one another. Each dart emits a signal, allowing rescuers to track the animal as it begins to grow drowsy.

It takes about 10 minutes to fully sedate a 200- to 280-pound gray seal. Rescuers move in quickly, using special nets to safely lift the seal into a boat. Over the next 45 minutes, they remove the entanglement, treat any wounds, and attach a tag so they can track the animal and follow up later.

This technique, developed over years, has led to an increase in seal rescues recently. Rescuers were able to save three seals in three days during October of 2016, a new feat for IFAW teams. The organization hopes to refine the procedure even further in the near future and would like to be able to save more than one seal per day.