Dargaville & Districts
What kind of person shoots and then runs over a baby seal?
That is the question Department of Conservation workers and Ripiro Beach residents are asking after two New Zealand seal pups were found on the beach.
They had been shot and run over, with photos clearly showing the tyre marks across the head of one of them.
Kauri Coast area manager Meirene Hardy-Birch says there is no reason for someone to shoot or run over a seal.
"It's just sheer stupidity, there's no reason anyone should shoot them in terms of protecting fish or people," she says.
"This is a callous and cowardly attack on seals, especially new pups, unable to defend themselves against someone striking them, being run over by a motor vehicle or being shot.
"It's not just humans that are allowed on the beach."
Mrs Hardy-Birch says it is normal to see the pups on the beach at this time of the year.
"They leave home from the south on their travels out in the big sea exploring and feeding and come on to our beaches to rest," she says.
She says there has been a pattern of abuse of seals in the district.
"We've had reports in the past of people shooting seals."
DOC was alerted to the latest abuse by people enjoying a day out on the beach.
New Zealand seals are protected by law and it is an offence to kill or harm them.
Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 there are penalties of up to six months' imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000 for killing or harming fur seals or other marine mammals plus a further fine of up to $10,000 for every marine mammal the offence was committed against.
DOC is urging the public to come forward if they see this type of behaviour or if someone finds an injured animal.
For emergencies call 0800 DOC HOT/0800362468.
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