Decoy for sea lions

SCOT MACKAY
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2010
LIFELIKE: DOC Murihiku area manager Dave Taylor with the dummy female sea lion that will be used to try to keep other sea lions away from people at Curio Bay.
ROBYN EDIE/The Southland Times

LIFELIKE: DOC Murihiku area manager Dave Taylor with the dummy female sea lion that will be used to try to keep other sea lions away from people at Curio Bay.

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The Department of Conservation is using an attractive young female to try to keep boisterous teenagers from slumping on tents and chasing cars this summer.

DOC is beginning a new experiment – using a stuffed female sea lion to attract its male counterparts away from people at Curio Bay, in the Catlins.

DOC Murihiku area manager Dave Taylor said about half a dozen sea lions gathered at the bay every summer and were like stroppy teenagers looking for entertainment.

They were often seen slumping on tents at the camp ground, chasing people or getting on the road and charging cars, he said.

While both sexes were causing problems, it tended to be the males that were more troublesome.

"They will wallow into a camp ground and sit on a tent.

"There have been occasions where they have come on to the road and lunged at cars," Mr Taylor said.

The Catlins provided popular spots for young sea lions because they liked to explore and were less likely to be beaten up by their peers, he said.

However, few people knew what to do around the critically endangered mammals so DOC wanted to keep them at a distance and the idea was to use the female dummy to attract them further down the beach, he said.

It was likely they would quickly work out the dummy was inanimate, however, and return to entertain themselves at the camp ground, Mr Taylor said.

Curio Bay Holiday Park employee Grace Todd said campers often complained they had slept in their car because a sea lion squashed their tent in the middle of the night.

"They have been quite a nuisance really ... and they are so smelly," she said.

Mr Taylor said it was essential people kept their distance because sea lions moved quickly and could be aggressive.

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- The Southland Times

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