EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE’S STUPIDITY when around wild animals are a dime a dozen this year.

After the tragic “death by selfie” of a baby dolphin in Argentina last February; the guy who let his kids ride a protected manatee for a photo op in Florida in April; and the euthanasia of a Yellowstone bison calf in May due to two visitors’ interference with the animal; it sure looks like people have no clue how to behave around wildlife.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, is therefore taking the lead and warning people about “seal selfies” before things get worse than last year.

The Washington Post reports:

“Officials have noted a steady, dramatic rise in cases of stranded harbor seals because of human harassment in NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Region, which stretches from Maine to Virginia.

In 2015, there were 53 such harassment cases in the region involving harbor seals. That’s nearly double from just two years prior, when humans harassed 28 seals, leading to the animals being stranded.”

NOAA explains that seal pupping season is underway in New England and that seal pups may be resting on the beach. Even though these creatures look adorable, you need to resist the urge to take a selfie with them and stay well away (150 feet is a good average). If their mom sees you too close, she may feel threatened and abandon her pup.

Note also that if you see seal pups by themselves, do not try to “save” them. Their mom is very likely hunting nearby, so walk away and give it space. You’ll be doing them a favor and save yourself from getting into serious trouble — it’s illegal to harass wild marine mammals.

However, if you genuinely think an animal is in trouble, please call your local Marine Mammal Stranding Network Member or the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional 24-hour hotline 866-755-NOAA (6622). And if you see someone harassing a marine mammal, please contact the NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement at 800-853-1964.

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