Leave seals alone – they’re just resting
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).
Above: New Zealand fur seal/kekeno.