Give wildlife space over lockdown
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionGive wildlife space is a message DOC generally shares in the summer holiday season when there’s an influx of people to the Bay of Plenty’s public parks, reserves, and beaches.
Date: 25 August 2021
During COVID-19 lockdown, with mental health encouraging us to go outside and have some fresh air, now “tis the season” to be even more vigilant to give wildlife space.
We are currently in the middle of the winter seal season, where large numbers of seals come ashore to rest.
Juveniles start appearing in larger numbers and are common along our beautiful coastal beaches and the rocky outcrops of Mauao (Mount Maunganui).
The DOC Tauranga team is requesting public support to look out for our wildlife and ensure you are giving wildlife space when visiting beaches during lockdown.
If your bubble includes a dog, please follow the government lockdown request to keep it on a lead in public places.
This is especially if you are walking your dog where seals regularly haul-out.
DOC has a hands-off approach with seals but will intervene if the animal is in obvious danger such as getting too close to a road, is tangled in debris, being harassed by dogs or people or is seriously injured.
Sneezing, coughing and crying are all normal seal behaviours and pups may be left alone for days at a time while their mother forages at sea.
If you see a seal which is severely injured or being harassed, call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Maintain a distance of at least 20 meters and never touch or handle a seal – they can be very aggressive if threatened.
To keep yourself, your dog and seals safe, follow the Marine Mammals Protection Act and the Dog Control Act 1996, as risk to wildlife can have devasting consequences for all parties.
Safety guidelines when watching seals
- stay at least 20 m away
- don’t disturb seals by making loud noises or throwing things
- keep dogs and children away
- don’t feed the seals
- never attempt to touch a seal
The following are natural behaviours, and you don't need to intervene. You may see seals:
- looking distressed and scrawny
- sneezing, coughing and with weepy eyes
- drifting in the waves
- flapping flippers as if stranded
- pups spending time away from their mothers
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