New Zealand fur seal/kekeno
Image: Shellie Evans | ©

Introduction

The Department of Conservation is offering a $5000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of whoever was responsible for killing at least eight fur seals on the Kaikōura coast late last year.

Date:  11 January 2022

Eight fur seals are known to have been shot dead and the deaths of another 11 seals are being treated as suspicious. The seals are believed to have died around late October or early November.

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and DOC are appealing for people to come forward if they have information about the seal deaths. The $5000 reward is being offered for information or evidence which enables the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the seal killings. The reward is on offer for one month only, up until 12 February 2022.

More information about the reward.

DOC is working with police to investigate the seal deaths and anyone who has information about it is asked to contact the DOC 24-hour number 0800 DOCHOT/0800 36 24 68 or Kaikōura Police via 105 and quote file number 211103/1981. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

DOC was first alerted to dead seals at Ōhau Point on Labour Day, 25 October. Six dead seals were found there and the other 13 seals were found at two sites in the Half Moon Bay area.

DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager Phil Bradfield says DOC is offering the $5000 reward as it views the killing of at least eight legally protected fur seals very seriously.

“We’re asking the public to help us find and convict those responsible for this heartless shooting of seals.

“The evidence we have indicates at least two firearms of different calibres were used to shoot the seals and it’s possible more than one person may have shot them.”

The penalties for harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 are a maximum two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000.

Although the cause of death wasn’t established for 11 of the seals, it’s considered suspicious that the seals died grouped closely together. The six dead seals in the Ōhau Point Fur Seal Sanctuary weren’t closely examined to avoid disturbing pregnant females and young pups in the breeding colony.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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