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


An attack on a NZ fur seal by a pack of dogs at Ocean Beach, Hawke's Bay, has resulted in a local woman facing charges under the Wildlife Act.

Date:  04 July 2019

In February 2019, the Department of Conservation (DOC) received information from members of the public that a pack of dogs had attacked the seal on the beach. Some of these people helped in putting an end to the dog attack.

NZ fur seals are fully protected under the Wildlife Act.

An investigation into the incident revealed the woman was walking her own dog at the time, along with four other dogs owned by other people.

After being interviewed, the woman admitted responsibility for the seal attack, as the dogs were under her care at the time.

The woman faced charges under the Wildlife Act but received diversion after accepting full responsibility for the incident.

Napier DOC Acting Operations Manager Carl Baker says that this is a timely reminder for people to control their dogs and protect wildlife on local beaches.

“We’re grateful for the people who helped stop the seal attack and reported it to DOC.

“Seals can be seen at any time of the year on our local coastline, but at this time of the year they spend more time on the shore and it’s likely that more will be encountered. People should be careful to keep their distance and give seals room, and this is particularly relevant for dog walkers.

“Seals are not the only wildlife threatened. Penguins are other local animals that are particularly susceptible to dog attacks. All dog owners need to be considerate of wildlife and act in accordance with the law,” Carl Baker says.

DOC has a hands-off policy with seals and will only intervene if an animal is obviously severely injured, entangled in marine debris, or in a dangerous place such as on or near a public road.

“Seals are wild animals. They’re best left alone in most situations. We encourage people to keep a good distance away from seals on our beaches. If people have real concerns about the welfare of seals or other wildlife, we will always respond where necessary. People can call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) if there is a genuine need for assistance,” Carl Baker says.

If people encounter seals on local beaches, DOC encourages people to leave them to rest and follow a sensible code of behaviour:

  • Always keep dogs on a leash, under control, and away from seals
  • Ensure you keep small children at a safe distance and under your control when watching seals
  • Don’t get closer than 20 metres
  • Do not get between the seal and the sea
  • Do not touch or feed the seal.


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