Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is encouraging responsible dog control after a seal pup was attacked and killed by an off leash dog in Napier.

Date:  04 October 2018

On Monday evening a dog off lead attacked and killed a seal pup at West Shore, Napier.

The owner had been walking the dog off lead on the beach. The dog was approximately 100 m ahead of him when it came across the pup and attacked it.

The owner immediately ran to secure the dog and intervene, but it was too late to save the defenceless seal pup.

Seals/kekeno were once hunted from the northern to the southern tips of New Zealand for their pelts, bringing them to the verge of extinction.

Since being protected, the seal population had increased to the point where they are spreading further and further north. It is now common to see seals on the East Coast, so the risk of dog attacks is increasing.

DOC Napier Operations Manager Connie Norgate said it was concerning that these attacks were becoming more common. The breeding season is underway and an influx of kekeno pups and juveniles are expected on land as they begin to wean from their mothers.

“Dog owners whose dogs attack seals are committing an offence, as the Dog Control Act requires them to keep their dogs under control at all times.”

“Seals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 and owners of dogs that attack seals could face some hefty penalties.

“In this attack the dog owner did the responsible thing. He came forward and identified himself to DOC and we are thankful for that and are working with him to resolve the matter,” Connie Norgate said.

DOC takes a 'hands off' approach to kekeno because they are capable, resilient and if given time and space they usually find their way home. They are often just coming inshore to rest.

However, DOC rangers will intervene if the kekeno is in notably poor condition, immediate danger, tangled in debris, causing disruption or being harassed by people or dogs.

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 can face prosecution.

You can help by ensuring your dog is under control, and on a lead at all times.

If people are worried about a seal being in danger, injured or harassed by people or dogs, they should call the emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).


Phone: +64 4 496 1911

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