Seal removed from airport runway in northern Alaska This Oct. 23, 2017, photo provided by Scott Babcock shows a seal that wound up on the runway at the airport in Utiqiagvik, Alaska. (Scott Babcock via AP/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr)
Seal removed from airport runway in northern Alaska
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In Alaska, it's not strange for wildlife to wander onto an airport's runway. Polar bears are sometimes on runways. But a lounging seal is far stranger.

That's what workers recently found at the airport. It was at the nation's northernmost city. A seal was taken off of the runway. It was at the airport at Utqiagvik (pronounced (oot-GHAR'-vik). It was taken by way of sled. This is what station KTVA reported. It was estimated to weigh 450 pounds.

A photo and video of the bearded seal was shared by Scott Babcock. He shared it on Facebook. It was lounging on the runway. This was in the town formerly known as Barrow.

The state Department of Transportation got in on the fun. They warned pilots of "low sealings" at the airport.

Meadow Bailey is the department's communications director. She said Utqiagvik experienced heavy storms. It is an Arctic Ocean coastal community. It is on Alaska's North Slope. Staff found the seal while clearing the runway.

The department's staff members are not allowed to handle marine mammals. So the seal was removed by North Slope Animal Control.

The workers have seen birds. They have seen caribou. They have seen polar bears. And they have seen musk ox. These have all been on the runway. But the seal sighting was a first. This is according to Bailey.

"Wildlife strikes to aircraft pose a significant safety hazard. They cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year," Bailey said. "Birds make up over 90 percent of strikes in the US. But mammal strikes are rare."

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