It is not every day that you find a baby seal stranded in a field between grazing cows – but that is what happened to Dee Knapp, a vigilante handyman, who found a little seal in his paddock in Tuatapere, Southland, New Zealand. And to make this story even more incredible – it happened six miles away from the sea!
Knapp was obviously shocked to find the little eight-month-old seal sitting in the middle of the green field and he stepped in to help the animal at once. However, when he called New Zealand’s Department of Conservation for help, he was told to just ignore the seal and “let nature take its course,” reports StoryTrender. The man refused to leave the baby all alone without help, vulnerable to other animals – and took the seal back to the sea to release him later the same day. Before the release, Knapp carried the marine mammal to safety in a blanket and fed the baby fish in his house.
Knapp’s decision to return the animal to the sea was clearly the best thing he could do – but, as it turns out, it could have cost him a $185,000 fine or even a jail term! The Department of Conservation phoned the rescuer and informed him that he had broken marine law and could be liable to pay the fine for touching the animal – since under New Zealand’s Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, it is an offense to “disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal.” None of which the man did.
But Knapp does not regret his decision to save the animal at all. “I couldn’t believe they felt that way. I think they knew my heart was in the right place,” he says and adds “I told them as they wouldn’t come out to assess the situation, I took the decision to do it myself as anyone with a warm heart would – you wouldn’t just leave a baby out there.”
If you ever come across an injured marine animal in need, please reach out to the proper authorities, you can find a list who might help here. While we wouldn’t recommend defying professionals on the best steps to take with a lost or injured wild animal, if you find yourself in a situation like this man did – we would encourage you to seek a second opinion from local rescue organizations before acting on your own.