DoC asks to leave seals in peace

They may look harmless, but seals can carry diseases and cause serious injuries.

They may look harmless, but seals can carry diseases and cause serious injuries.

LEAVE US ALONE: It is not unusual for seals to stop and rest on a beach at this time of the year. When they are in danger or in a position where they can cause danger, DoC will intervene. File picture by Sarah Curtis

THE Department of Conservation (DoC) has reminded the public to leave seals alone.

East Coast operations manager John Lucas said he is concerned about reports of an incident last week when a group of people with a dog chased a seal near Midway Beach.

Seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and this sort of harassment is unacceptable, he said.

“This could have also resulted in a severe injury and it is a timely reminder that seals are wild animals, so don’t get too close.

“I must stress to keep at a distance of at least 20 metres and ensure dogs are on a leash,” he said.

“It is not unusual for seals to be seen at this time of the year. Between August to November, newly-weaned fur seal pups and juveniles come ashore, but it’s just a resting period for them before they head out to sea again in search of food.

“The seals might look distressed and scrawny, and display signs of sneezing, coughing and may have weepy eyes, but that’s just natural for them. They really don’t need any human intervention. They will return to the water and swim away when they are rested and ready to go.”

Mr Lucas said while seals might look harmless and helpless, they are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

They can carry infectious diseases and cause serious injuries.

DOC has a hands-off policy with seals.

THE Department of Conservation (DoC) has reminded the public to leave seals alone.

East Coast operations manager John Lucas said he is concerned about reports of an incident last week when a group of people with a dog chased a seal near Midway Beach.

Seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and this sort of harassment is unacceptable, he said.

“This could have also resulted in a severe injury and it is a timely reminder that seals are wild animals, so don’t get too close.

“I must stress to keep at a distance of at least 20 metres and ensure dogs are on a leash,” he said.

“It is not unusual for seals to be seen at this time of the year. Between August to November, newly-weaned fur seal pups and juveniles come ashore, but it’s just a resting period for them before they head out to sea again in search of food.

“The seals might look distressed and scrawny, and display signs of sneezing, coughing and may have weepy eyes, but that’s just natural for them. They really don’t need any human intervention. They will return to the water and swim away when they are rested and ready to go.”

Mr Lucas said while seals might look harmless and helpless, they are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

They can carry infectious diseases and cause serious injuries.

DOC has a hands-off policy with seals.

Cause for intervention

DoC will intervene only if a seal is obviously injured, tangled in marine debris or in a dangerous place such as on or near a public road.

In that case you can call the 24-hour DOC HOTLINE (0800 362 468).

If you encounter a seal on or near a beach, leave it to rest:

  • Keep dogs on a leash, under control and away from seals.
  • Ensure you keep small children at a safe distance and under your control when watching seals.
  • Avoid getting closer than 20 metres.
  • Do not get between the seal and the sea.
  • Do not touch or feed the seal.
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