UPDATE: Sea lion roaming Sitka streets returns to water

Published: Sep. 1, 2018 at 3:02 PM AKDT
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Monday update:

A sea lion roaming the streets of Sitka has returned to the water according to NOAA officials.

Julie Speegle with NOAA says her team was able to sedate the Steller sea lion and move it to shore in the bucket of a tractor.

When it woke up, it returned on its own to the water, according to Speegle.

Sunday afternoon update:

As of Sunday afternoon, a sea lion who had been wandering the streets of Sitka has stayed put in a wooded area, according to officials with NOAA.

Julie Speegle with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service said the mammal is about a quarter of a mile from the ocean and is likely exhausted, dehydrated and hungry.

The public is asked to avoid the area near Airport Road to eliminate any additional stress the large crowds could put on the sea lion.

It's unclear what exact plan of action NOAA may have to take to relocate the sea lion if he continues to stay in the woods. Speegle said it's possible the process could require using heavy equipment and a tranquilizer.

Channel 2's Blake Essig contributed to this article.

The sea lion venturing through Sitka is now hiding in a wooded area nearby, according to officials with NOAA.

First responders are going to monitor the area overnight and reassess the situation in the morning, according to Julie Speegle with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

Speegle said the sea lion is now believed to be an adult male, meaning he is at least 8 years old and could weigh 1,500 pounds or more.

Original story:

Officials in Sitka are working to move a sea lion back to the water after the sub-adult male has reportedly been moving through town.

Julie Speegle with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service says an employee with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium reported initially seeing the sea lion on Friday morning.

As of Saturday afternoon, Speegle said multiple agencies including the fire department, police department and NOAA employees were attempting to get the sea lion back to the ocean.

A water hose was used to try and encourage the mammal to relocate. Shana Colburn shared video with Channel 2 News her 13-year-old daughter, Harlee Nelson captured of the event Saturday morning near Airport Road on Japonski Island.

Speegle said the effort lead to some progress but the sea lion veered off into the woods and a parameter has now been established.

Because the sea lion seems confused and frightened, Speegle said it’s best if crowds avoid gathering in the area.