A wayward fur seal that made global headlines after being photographed on a car in suburban Tasmania on Boxing Day has a history of run-ins with authorities.
The 200kg Australian fur seal turned up in Penquite Road in the Launceston suburb of Newstead, 50km from the ocean, and sat on a parked car before being shot with tranquiliser darts and taken away.
A Department of Primary Industry (DPI) spokesman confirmed the mammal, dubbed “Lou-seal” by police, infiltrated a southern Tasmanian fish farm earlier in 2016 before showing up in Newstead.
“Although marking on the seal indicated historically he had at one time been relocated from a southern fish farm, it is unlikely that relocation was responsible for his presence at the property in Launceston on Boxing Day,” the spokesman said.
“Numbers of seal relocations are generally quite low during this period as most of the population naturally head to northern Tasmanian waters to breed.”
Although the spokesman could not confirm whether “Lou-seal” was a recurring problem at Tasmanian fish pens, documents obtained by the ABC under Right to Information last year showed of the 232 seals removed from pens owned by salmon farming giants Tassal and Huon Aquaculture in 2015, almost half were recaptures.
The images of Lou-seal at large in northern Tasmania went viral on social media, with many speculating on whether a valid insurance claim could be made following the damage to several cars caused by the weight of the animal.