Warning for seal season

NICE SPOT FOR A REST: This seal found Gisborne’s boat ramp in the inner harbour to be a perfect spot for a rest from the swells at sea yesterday. Picture by Liam Clayton

THE Department of Conservation says it is not uncommon for seals to head to land for a rest in this district during the winter months.

A recent report of a dog chasing a seal on Midway Beach prompted a warning from the Department of Conservation. East Coast operations manager John Lucas said seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and harassment is unacceptable.

You should keep at a distance of at least 20 metres and ensure dogs are on a leash, he said. Between August and November, newly-weaned fur seal pups and juveniles come ashore, but it’s just a resting up period for them before they head out to sea again in search of food.

Mr Lucas sais 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 and will intervene only if a seal is severely injured, is tangled in marine debris or is 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).

THE Department of Conservation says it is not uncommon for seals to head to land for a rest in this district during the winter months.

A recent report of a dog chasing a seal on Midway Beach prompted a warning from the Department of Conservation. East Coast operations manager John Lucas said seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and harassment is unacceptable.

You should keep at a distance of at least 20 metres and ensure dogs are on a leash, he said. Between August and November, newly-weaned fur seal pups and juveniles come ashore, but it’s just a resting up period for them before they head out to sea again in search of food.

Mr Lucas sais 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 and will intervene only if a seal is severely injured, is tangled in marine debris or is 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).

What to do

  • 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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