HAINES -- Tracy Mikowski holds a degree in wildlife biology and knows animals found in the wild should be left there.
But when Mikowski came across a newborn seal in beach grass along Chilkat Inlet recently, she scooped it up.
"I struggled with it. I debated it. But I knew it wasn't going to survive by itself," said Mikowski, a former zookeeper who has worked as the local dogcatcher since moving here last fall. "What do you do? My conscience wouldn't let me leave it. People may have a problem with that, but I have to live with myself."
Mikowski said she was out walking dogs when she was attracted to a spot on the beach near 1 Mile Mud Bay Road where crows had surrounded something. "Here was this furry thing that started wiggling toward me. You could tell by its face (what it was) right away," she said.
With crows, dogs and eagles around it, she figured the harbor seal pup, with a 4-inch section of umbilical cord attached, wasn't long for the world. Officials at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward said the pup was likely born premature, as newborns don't usually come with the thick, shedding fur that coated this one.
Also, seals typically give birth later in May, officials at the center told her. The pup was on its way to the SeaLife Center later that morning. Mikowski is hoping that, after some bottle feeding, the seal can be released into the wild.
"I know that's what they've shot for in the past, when they take in an animal for rehabilitation. The goal is to put it back," she said.