Wednesday, June 26, 2024

$5,000 reward offered in Kaikōura seal shooting case

The Department of Conservation (DOC) 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.

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.

“We’re asking the public to help us find and convict those responsible for this heartless shooting of seals,” said DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager, Phil Bradfield.

“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.”

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and DOC are appealing for people to come forward if they have information about the seal deaths.

One of the dead seals (right) at Ohau Point with a live pup.

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 can be found on the DOC website atwww.doc.govt.nz/seal-investigation.

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.

The penalties for harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 are up to 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, DOC said in a statement.

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.

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