Plea to let resting seals lie
Dog owners are being warned they will be prosecuted after reports of a leopard seal being harassed at Timaru's Caroline Bay.
A witness told The Timaru Herald that two dogs, encouraged by their owners, had chased the seal into the water on Friday.
Conservation Department staff confirmed that a leopard seal had come ashore in the past week.
Biodiversity ranger Steve Harraway said staff had received three reported sightings of the seal. Juvenile leopard seals often show up in Caroline Bay in August.
Staff had placed a sign near the boardwalk on the beach on Friday advising people to stay 10 metres away from the seal.
A sign had also been erected notifying the public that blue penguins were breeding on the rock walls at the port.
Adult birds come ashore between May and June and lay their eggs between August and November.
Mr Harraway advised dog owners to be extra cautious.
Leopard seals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978.
Rules for observing seals: Always stay at least 10 metres from seals. Allow them space if they are active.
Do not disturb seals.
Do not make loud noises or throw objects near them.
Always keep dogs and small children under control and away from seals. Never try to touch or handle seals.
They can be aggressive if threatened, and you can carry diseases that can transfer to them and make them ill.
Do not feed any seal. Offences carry penalties of up to six months' imprisonment or fines up to $250,000 and additional fines of up to $10,000 for every marine mammal against which the offence is committed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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