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


A seal pup/kekeno has been mauled to death at Te Awanga by a dog - the second such attack in as many months.

Date:  16 October 2017

The attack occurred at around 9 am on Monday 10 October. 

The seal pup/kekeno was dead by the time DOC rangers reached the scene with the dog and its owner nowhere to be found. 

The second incident occurred last month at Tangoio where a dog was witnessed hunting and then mauling a fur seal/kekeno pup to death. This attack was witnessed by a member of the public. 

The witness was a man who observed the pup/kekeno on his way out to Flat Rock at around 8 am on 17 September. It was 11 am when he saw the incident from afar through his binoculars. 

As a result, the dog’s owner now faces fines of up to $3,000 under the Dog Control Act, and the animal has been impounded at Hastings District Council’s Animal Welfare Centre. 

In the wake of these two tragedies DOC is asking the public to work with them to protect Hawke’s Bay’s fur seal/kekeno population. 

DOC’s Acting Operations Manager for Hawke’s Bay Kelly Conway is asking people to please take care on and around beaches in the Bay with their dogs. 

“New Zealand kekeno are fully protected and it is the dog owners’ responsibility to keep their dogs under control,” she says.  

“DOC recommends keeping dogs on a leash in areas where there are seals present and keeping a safe distance of at least 20 metres.” 

Hastings District Council fully supports DOC’s call for people to take responsibility for their dogs. 

“Even in an off-leash area an owner has to have control of their dogs at all times,” a council spokesperson said.

“That means that they must return to their owner when called. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dog does not bother or attack any wildlife.” 

Ms Conway wants to thank the Hastings District Council for working with DOC to resolve this incident. 

“If members of the public do come across a kekeno please leave them be. While they may look cute and cuddly, seals are wild animals and more often than not they’re in need of rest not rescue,” she says. 

If anyone is concerned about a seal/kekeno that is in danger, injured or being harassed by people or dogs call DOC's emergency hotline on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). People can remain anonymous if they wish when they call.

Background information 

  • Seals/kekeno carry infectious diseases; their teeth can inflict serious injuries and they will defend their territory aggressively. 
  • Seals/kekeno sometimes look as though they are crying, however regurgitating, sneezing and coughing are common habits for seals. 
  • They drift in the waves, flap their flippers, fight and lie immobile for long periods. 
  • Pups happily spend time alone while their mothers hunt for food. 
  • Enjoy seals/kekeno from a distance. Look but do not touch. Keep your food for yourself and take extra care if you have dogs with you. 


Sophie Price, DOC Hawke’s Bay Community Ranger
Mobile: +64 27 582 1846 

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