Kirsty Prior, DOC Auckland mainland operations manager, said “we are working closely with leading veterinary advice, and the team at LeopardSeals.org who will be assisting DOC in monitoring Owha carefully to check for any change in her behaviour or body condition.
“For now, a ‘hands-off’ approach has been identified as the best option for the wellbeing of this rare and special resident. At present we are pleased to see that she is in good condition and expressing normal behaviour.”
Indications are that the injury is not one that is likely to have occurred naturally. DOC will be undertaking an investigation to determine what has happened, and requests, if members of the public have any information, that they contact 0800 DOCHOT as soon as possible.
Kirsty Prior warns that “whilst at this time we would welcome reports from the public regarding Owha’s location and behaviour, we also remind people to stay at least 20 meters away and keep dogs on leads so as not to cause any undue stress.”
It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 (MMPA) to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution. Anyone charged under the MMPA with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a seal faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment or a fine to a maximum of $250,000.