Democratic gubernatorial candidate Todd Giroux moved a seal off a beach near his Bristol home in April. It is a violation of federal law to touch or move a seal.
Giroux told NBC 10 he and two others were trying to help a troubled animal on the shore of the Kickemuit River. He said the seal appeared to have been shot. "I saw a seal dying at the water's edge. I thought the tide was coming in. I thought it was going to drown, so it took two other folks and we put it in a blanket and we put it in a cart and we wheeled it up the boat ramp," Giroux told NBC 10.
Giroux said they moved the seal across the street in the shade while waiting for experts from Mystic Aquarium to come.
In the meantime, someone Giroux calls a nosy neighbor called police. Giroux said the seal then got nervous in the commotion. "The seal wanted out of the cart and the officer did say the words, 'let him go' and we certainly did."
WPRO radio reports the Bristol Police report states a witness saw Giroux drag the seal. Giroux says that was not the case. "It had a hard time getting across this little lip. I helped it over the edge and it scooted in the water. It swam away."
A dead seal washed up a week later.
Giroux says it was the same one.
WPRO reports the experts at Mystic Aquarium think it was a different one.
In any case, touching a seal is a federal no-no.
Giroux told NBC 10, "I now know that. I didn't at the time."
"I don't have any regrets for trying to save an animal's life. If it was a dog or cat lying in the road, I think anyone would have done the same thing," Giroux said. "We thought we were saving a dying seal from drowning, trying to do the right thing."
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management tells NBC 10 they referred the case to federal fisheries officials. Messages left with the federal agency and Mystic Aquarium after business hours Friday were not returned.
Meanwhile, Giroux says he hasn't been contacted by any agency.