A 52-year-old Auckland man, whose dog attacked and killed a protected New Zealand fur seal pup, has been fined $1000 in the Waitakere District Court today.
Neil Russell Morris, a sickness beneficiary, admitted a charge laid by the Department of Conservation.
Morris pleaded guilty to owning a Staffordshire cross that attacked and killed a protected New Zealand fur seal pup at Muriwai Beach - on Auckland’s west coast - on September 26 last year.
Judge Lisa Tremewan convicted Morris on the charge, fined him $1000, and ordered that the Staffordshire Cross be put down.
Morris admitted that he was at Muriwai Beach on September 26 with the Staffordshore Cross and a Labrador that he also owns.
He initially had the dogs on leads but let them off the leads while he gathered mussels at the south end of the beach.
While the dogs were out of his sight and out of his control, the Staffordshire cross attacked the seal pup.
The attack lasted several minutes and was witnessed by a photographer, who photographed the attack.
A second witness tried to stop the attack, but was unsuccessful. They also tried to alert Morris but could not get his attention, as he was some distance away gathering mussels.
Morris eventually appeared at the scene of the attack. He later told police he was not aware of the attack until he heard witnesses screaming.
He took the unconscious seal pup from the Staffordshire cross and carried it up the beach, placing it near a cave. He then took both his dogs home.
The mortally injured seal pup stopped breathing and died, soon after Morris and the dogs had left the scene of the attack.
Morris’ lawyer, Ashley Thomas, said in admitting the charge his client accepted responsibility for the death of the seal. He said Morris is a sickness beneficiary on a limited income.
Judge Tremewan told Morris she gave him credit for admitting the charge and acknowledged his restricted income in imposing the $1000 fine.