Leave seals alone – they’re just rest­ing

Walking New Zealand - - Walk Talk -

The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC) is re­mind­ing the pub­lic to leave seals alone to rest. East Coast Oper­a­tions Man­ager, John Lu­cas says he is con­cerned about re­ports of an in­ci­dent re­cently where a group of peo­ple with a dog chased a seal near Mid­way beach, Gis­borne. Seals are pro­tected un­der the Marine Mam­mals Pro­tec­tion Act and this sort of ha­rass­ment is un­ac­cept­able. “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. In the com­ing months be­tween Au­gust to Novem­ber new­ly­weaned 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.” “The seals may look dis­tressed and scrawny and dis­play signs of sneez­ing, cough­ing and may have weepy eyes, but that’s just nat­u­ral for them and 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.” John says while seals may look harm­less and help­less they are wild an­i­mals and will de­fend them­selves if they feel threat­ened. They can carry in­fec­tious dis­eases and can cause se­ri­ous in­juries. DOC has a hands-off pol­icy with seals and will only in­ter­vene if a seal is ob­vi­ously se­verely in­jured, is en­tan­gled in marine de­bris or is in a dan­ger­ous place such as on or near a pub­lic road. In that case, peo­ple could call the 24-hour DOCHOTLINE (0800 362 468).

Photo by an­drewwalm­s­leypho­tog­ra­phy.com

Above: New Zealand fur seal/kekeno.

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