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Police discover injured seal pup in man's van.

Byline: Winston Ross The Register-Guard

NEWPORT - An injured harbor seal pup found in the back of a Nevada man's van with a pit bull is expected to survive, Cindy Hanson, spokeswoman for the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, said Friday.

Oregon State Police troopers brought the pup to the aquarium two weeks ago after finding it in the vehicle of 24-year-old Matthew Charles Lane, who they'd arrested and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Lane was subsequently charged with unlawful possession of wildlife. He was cited and released and ordered to appear in Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene on Oct. 11.

The pup had multiple puncture wounds and infections, Hanson said. Aquarium veterinarian Steven Brown said the wounds appeared to be bites. The pup also had an elevated white blood cell count and hair loss, evidence of trauma.

Brown put the pup on antibiotics and its condition improved within 24 hours. It's now eating and gaining weight. Aquarium mammalogist Ken Lytwyn said the pup would have died within a short time if it hadn't been rescued.

"Her wounds were infected and she was very weak," Lytwyn said. "But she's feisty and wants to live."

Authorities said Lane recently relocated to Oregon and apparently lives in his van. Lane was taking a prescription medication for a physical problem at the time of his arrest, they said.

State police Senior Trooper Scott Salisbury, who works for the agency's fish and wildlife division, overheard reports Sept. 17 about a driver in possession of a seal pup. When police heard a second report about a man showing a seal pup at a Florence-area store, they notified Florence police.

A Florence officer stopped Lane's van on Highway 101 near Quince Street and found the pup in the van, wrapped in a towel.

Salisbury was summoned and took possession of the pup, believed to be 2 to 3 months old, and made arrangements to have it taken to the aquarium.

Lane told police he and his 16-year-old brother were walking on the beach and noticed some larger seals attacking the pup. He said they retrieved the animal and were looking for a veterinarian's office when their van was stopped.

But Hanson said that was an unlikely explanation. "The mammalogists here say seals don't do that," she said. "Nobody witnessed the dog attacking the seal pup but there really isn't any other explanation."

Jim Burke, director of husbandry at the aquarium, said if the pup recovers fully, the decision to release it will be made by federal and state fishery managers and aquarium doctors.

"We want to let people know that not only is it a bad idea to pick up a stranded seal pup, but it's illegal and carries a stiff penalty, because they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act," he said.

Anyone who spots an injured marine mammal is advised to leave it alone and call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (541) 867-0446 or the Oregon State Police at (541) 265-5353.

Unlawful possession of wildlife is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $6,250 and up to one year in jail.

Winston Ross can be reached at (541) 902-9030 or rgcoast@
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Title Annotation:Animals; Matthew Charles Lane, 24, is being charged with unlawful possession of wildlife
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 30, 2006
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