A young fur seal has been found dead, possibly shot, at Fisherman's Cove on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Auckland.
A resident who declined to be named said the seal was alive and well on Wednesday but she discovered it dead in a pool of blood yesterday evening when returning to take more photos.
''When I was walking the dog on Wednesday another beach walker pointed out the seal to me. I went over to look, and the seal sat up and barked.
''I went down again at around 4.45pm on Thursday to check on it. It was in a similar spot to the day before, but I saw it laying there in a pool of blood. And fair and square in the middle of its forehead was what looked like a bullet hole.''
''There were a lot of big dog prints around where it was on the sand. It looked pretty fresh when I got there, the blood was dribbling out still.''
The resident was upset and ''pretty angry''.
''I don't like things like that, it is wrong.''
The woman rang the Department of Conservation in Warkworth and was told someone would check the seal at low tide around 3pm today.
''Someone could have thought it was sick and wanted to put it out of its misery, but usually you would call the zoo or DOC or something, not shoot it,'' the woman said.
Another nearby Whangaparaoa Rd resident says he saw it alive on the beach on Wednesday when he was gathering firewood.
''I walked past it and it hissed. It was enjoying the sun on a ledge.''
The man, who also didn't want to be named, hadn't seen it since.
Neither he nor the Fisherman Cove resident heard any gunshots in the area.
Fur seals come ashore to rest during what is known as the 'hauling out season' from May to July.
The Department of Conservation fields calls from people spotting seals on beaches across the Auckland region daily at that time.
New Zealand fur seals are protected by law and it is an offence to kill or harm them.
Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 penalties range from up to six months jail 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.
HISTORY OF SEAL ATTACKS
Centuries ago about two million fur seals lived around the New Zealand coast, but in the early 1800s they were nearly wiped out by hunting.
Seals were given full protection by the New Zealand Government in 1849. Despite this seals still seem to be the frequent target of abuse.
Two seals, including a pup, were shot in the head near Kaikoura in July 2013.
In 2010, 23 seals were bashed to death with a metal bar at Ohau Pt, Kaikoura.
Renwick man Jason Godsiff was convicted for killing the mammals and initially sentenced to two years' imprisonment. However, this was reduced to eight months' home detention on appeal.
Also in 2010, a 20-year-old Southland man was jailed for four months for his role in an attack on a leopard seal in 2012.
Fist-sized stones were thrown at the seal and it was dragged around a beach by its tail.
Two other men were fined $5000 and $7000 respectively for their part in the attack.
In July 2010, Hayden John Ingram was sentenced to community work and fines after he ran over a seal pup at the Pt Keen colony and beat an adult with a steel pole, killing both animals, in June.
A youth has also been charged with cruelty and will be dealt with by the Youth Court.
In 2005, three men, including All Black Andrew Hore, were each fined $2500 in relation to shooting at seals, killing one, on the Otago coast.
- Rodney Times
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