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A seal lays in the back of a pickup truck.

The wild side of policing

RCMP Cpl. Derm Roul worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to release this seal after it was seen wandering town twice in one day. Credit: RCMP

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While people and tactical skills are essential to a policing career, some animal skills can be useful, too.

"It's not uncommon for us to have animal problems," says RCMP Cst. Ryan Dell, who last summer responded to a call about an injured bald eagle spotted in a roadside ditch while on duty at the Logan Lake detachment in British Columbia.

Dell and a traffic services officer approached the injured raptor, draped it with a blanket and coaxed it into a pet crate borrowed from a nearby resident. The eagle spent the night in the Logan Lake detachment cell block before heading to a wildlife rehabilitation centre the next day.

According to Dell, this isn't the first time an eagle has spent the night in an RCMP detachment. He says a retired officer who worked in the northern territories arranged for an eagle to stay in a cell block years ago.

For Dell, helping animals is just part of the job.

"I think most RCMP officers have had calls about an animal," he says. "I've worked in rural detachments most of my career and there's been calls for horses, cattle, dogs and even injured coyotes."

On the other side of the country, Cpl. Derm Roul was on the job last January on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, where he responded to a seal wandering in town.

It was only hours after a night-shift officer had received a similar call and returned the seal back to water.

"This was definitely the same animal based on markings and colours in the photos," says Roul.

While seals can look friendly, like any wild animal, they can pose risks.

"I was concerned for the public passing by," says Roul. "A seal can be quite dangerous if it manages to grab your arm or your leg. It's no different from how they eat fish."

After nearly an hour of persuading the seal onto a blanket, Roul and a colleague loaded it up.
"I think it knew we were trying to help, but it didn't want help," he says.

He drove to meet a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officer with the seal in the back of his truck and eventually it was swimming again.

Working with the DFO ensured the seal stayed healthy and could be released where it wouldn't again be tempted to visit town.

Helping animals in trouble is one of many ways police serve communities. Injured roadside animals can distract drivers and, when larger animals enter towns, they can pose a risk to the public.

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