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Road closed in Oak Bay, B.C., so elephant seal can cross

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Police in Oak Bay, B.C., had to close a stretch of road Sunday to help an elephant seal named Emerson get safely back into the water.

The department posted to social media around 10 a.m. saying the mammal – who has become a local celebrity and has stubbornly refused relocation – had been crossing Beach Drive.

“Efforts are underway to move him back down the beach to avoid an accident,” the post said, adding that Fisheries and Oceans Canada was sending personnel in to assist.

At one point, Emerson made his way onto the lawn of an apartment building, drawing a crowd of onlookers. The DFO’s whale protection unit was on scene at that time.

Around 1 p.m., the police department said Emerson was back in the water and the road had reopened.

Emerson has been spotted several times around the B.C. capital since spring 2023, including in the communities of Oak Bay and Sooke.

The seal has demonstrated a degree of comfort around people that officials warn could eventually lead to trouble – which prompted DFO staff to relocate Emerson to an undisclosed beach on northern Vancouver Island on April 5.

But Emerson made his way back – a trek that required travelling an average of 34 kilometres per day for six days, for a total distance of around 204 kilometres.

Once Emerson returned, DFO officials said he would be left to "complete his moulting process in the location he has chosen."

CTV News reached out to the federal department Sunday for more information. This story will be updated when a response is received.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’ s Andrew Weichel

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