“Low Sealings” Reported At Utqiagvik Airport
While accustomed to runway incursions by the local fauna, the bearded seal seeking a moment of repose on Runway 7/25 at Utqiagvik’s Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport was a first for airport personnel. Meadow Bailey, communications director for the Alaska Department of Transportation, says heavy storms had recently come through the area, which perhaps drove the marine mammal to the relative warmth of the asphalt runway. Bailey says, “The workers have seen birds, caribou, polar bears and musk ox on the runway, but the seal sighting was a first.”
While airport personnel are authorized to escort most wildlife off the runways, they are not permitted to handle marine mammals, says Bailey, so North Slope Animal Control was called to relocate the estimated 450-pound seal with a sled to a safer area—off the runway. Photos and videos of the seal shared on Facebook by Anchorage resident Scott Babcock thrust the Alaskan airport intruder to fame this week.