Doc pursuing leads following seal attack

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The Department of Conservation is following leads from the public to find the owner of two dogs which attacked a seal in Kakanui on Tuesday, Dunedin conservation services manager David Agnew says.

A Timaru woman was in her camper-van at All Day Bay for white-baiting when she witnessed the attack, which killed the young fur seal, at approximately 7.15am on Tuesday.

Mr Agnew said his staff had been investigating the incident as they take attacks on marine animals very seriously.

“We’ve had a huge response from members of the public providing information at this stage.

“It seems promising as far as being able to identify the owner.”

They were currently collecting the information to work out what happened before they proceeded with possible prosecution but would like to the owner to contact them so they could build up a picture of what really happened.

“It will depend upon what information we have and if the owner of the dogs comes forward and what the owner tells us.”

Cases like this were not common in the area but it did happen from time to time, he said.

“We certainly take it seriously and unfortunately this case led to an animal dying.”

Seals were often found on the coast of Otago and because they were likely to be encountered on beaches, dogs should be under control at all times, Mr Agnew said.

“Dog owners need to be responsible.

“I think from the response the general public are pretty upset by what has happened and we are too.”

However, he wanted to praise the witness for trying to stop what happened and for providing information to DOC.

“I think she acted really responsibly.

“She was on the spot and she stopped what was going on but unfortunately it was a bit late.”

If anyone has information on the incident they should contact the DOC Dunedin office on 03 477 0677.

By RUBY HARFIELD