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Euthanised Seal Pup Highlights Need For Responsible Dog Ownership

A kekeno/seal pup on Paekakariki Beach has been euthanised by DOC staff after sustaining severe injuries from a dog attack early yesterday morning.

The injured seal pup was located on some rocks next to the footpath running parallel to The Parade at Paekakariki Beach. DOC biodiversity ranger Colin Giddy says the seal was in such poor condition it had to be euthanised.

“Based on the evidence at the site it looked like the seal pup had been attacked by a dog on the walking track and then had dragged itself onto nearby rocks about 3 metres away,” says Colin.

Colin says these situations are fully avoidable if dog owners act responsibly and control their pets.

“There is a reason DOC has regulations about leashing and controlling dogs near wildlife,” says Colin. “Uncontrolled dogs on beaches are one of the most severe threats to animals like seals or penguins. People who disregard the rules do real and measurable harm to our native wildlife. This kind of incident is completely avoidable, and it’s really disheartening to see it happen again.”

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution, with potential consequences up to two years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and the destruction of the dog.

The incident has been entered into the DOC compliance system and will be actively investigated by DOC. DOC are asking for anyone with more information to call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

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DOC’s guidelines for people who encounter a seal is to give it at least 20m space, keep dogs on a leash and children away from the seal, and don’t feed it or disturb it with loud noises or by throwing things.

The Lead the Way campaign is trying to avoid these situations through advocacy and awareness, by empowering dog owners to share the beach safely with wildlife. Find out more on the Lead the Way webpage, or Wellington/Kapiti Dogs on Beaches.

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