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


DOC is investigating after a dead leopard seal was found with what appears to be a bullet wound to the head/neck on a Southland beach.

Date:  24 October 2018

DOC senior ranger biodiversity Rosalind (Ros) Cole says it is gutting to think someone would shoot one of these marine mammals.

“It’s always heartbreaking when protected species are harmed or killed, but having them deliberately shot is a completely incomprehensible, senseless act,” Ros says.

The leopard seal was found on the Tiwai peninsula yesterday. DOC has opened an investigation into the matter.

“Leopard seals are occasional visitors to New Zealand waters, but primarily inhabit the Antarctic sea ice. They are protected under the Marine Mammals Act, and anyone harming them could face up to two years' imprisonment or fines of up to $250,000.”

“People need to remember that beaches are shared spaces with wildlife. Marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and occasionally leopard seals can and do visit our Southland beaches regularly. Keep your distance, be respectful and keep your dogs under control.”

Just last month a labrador attacked and killed a young male New Zealand fur seal/kekeno in Invercargill. That dog’s owners have cooperated fully with DOC’s investigation.

If anyone has any information on the leopard seal, please contact the Murihiku DOC office on +64 3 211 2400.

People are asked to please call the 24-hour DOC hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) if they see any injured or harassed wildlife on our beaches.


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