Fur seal killed in Brighton dog attack

A New Zealand fur seal. Supplied photo
A New Zealand fur seal. Supplied photo

The Department of Conservation is appealing for information after a dog attacked and killed a protected fur seal on Brighton beach, near Dunedin.

A Brighton resident discovered the remains of the New Zealand fur seal while walking on the beach on June 7, and reported it to the Department of Conservation hotline.

DOC Coastal Otago services manager David Agnew said today the autopsy and pathology report from Massey University confirmed a dog killed the juvenile female seal.

"The autopsy confirmed severe trauma to the head and neck, consistent with a dog attack. Injuries included severe depressed fractures to the skull with many other bite wounds present," Mr Agnew said.

"This shows the importance of keeping dogs under control at all times as marine wildlife can appear on our beaches at any time. Roaming dogs can be of particular menace and should be reported to DCC Animal Services."

DCC Senior Animal Services officer Peter Hanlin urged dog owners to abide by local regulations and ensure their dog is secure on their property.

He reminded owners it's their responsibility to always have their dog under control at all times.

Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 penalties range from up to six months' jail or fines of up to $250,000 for killing and harming fur seals or other marine mammals.

Absolutely terrible

Absolutely terrible! Whether it be dogs, humans etc, this is awful.[Abridged]


Tarring us all with the same brush

I totally understand the anger at this needless attack, but remember the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and care very much for the safety of other users and especially the wildlife. I rang the authorities myself about a gang of young lads throwing rocks at a seal on Brighton beach, and my husband chased them off. While this incident is a dog attack, let's not forget there are also idiot human beings that need reporting. I also rang about being threatened on Ocean View beach by a man who said we shouldn't be entitled to walk our dogs on the beach, so yet another human being, umm?


Reporting unleashed dogs

Virtually every time we have visited Brighton Beach recently, we have seen unleashed dogs running wild, despite the 'no dogs on beach' signs.

I do think that Brighton needs more 'no dogs' signs posted at both sides of the playing field, rather than just one end of the beach. The signage should also encourage and assist members of the public to report offenders. In particular, provide details on a phone number to ring, including after-hours contacts, and/or a website where they can upload a photo of the offender and their number plate details if applicable.

It's not just the wildlife at threat. I have had to pick up my small child many times to distance them from an unleashed dog on a beach or path. I shouldn't have to worry about my little one being bowled over by an unknown dog. The public needs a way to more easily report offenders... a 'safe-city' app perhaps that sends photos to the right authorities with a timestamp and gps details?



Too many unsupervised dogs

I have seen too many unsupervised or poorly supervised dogs at beaches where wildlife often can be seen, such as Brighton Beach, nearby Ocean View Beach, and, at the other end of the city, Smails Beach. 

I last visited Brighton/Ocean View Beach on  April 27 and found a dead fur seal at that time, but didn't bother reporting it as I didn't know DOC kept track of fur seal deaths. On another occasion, I also found a dead little blue penguin on that beach with what look like bite wounds, despite the fact I rarely go to this beach. Again, I didn't call DOC because I figured they only kept track of Yellow Eyed Penguin deaths.

Perhaps many of us are finding dead wildlife on the beaches and not reporting these incidents, in which case dog attacks or other causes of wildlife deaths are slipping under the radar, being under-reported. 

The beach is the natural habitat for resting seals, sea lions, and penguins, and a place for shags, seagulls, terns, and oyster catchers. The rest of us, humans and canines alike, are just visiting, and should respect their space.  

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