Two more seal pups have been slaughtered in Kaikoura.
The pups were killed at the Point Kean seal colony in Kaikoura. Their remains were found in a nearby car park where they’d obviously been run over by one or more motor vehicles.
The seals are have long been known to bask on the car park’s tarmac (see picture above) and there are signs warning people to take care. The Kaikoura Peninsular Walkway brochure also advises visitors to look out for seals:
As you approach Point Kean carpark, you will notice several signs warning that seals are likely to be present in the surrounding area.Most of the seals in the carpark are males. They appear to be harmless; however they are capable of becoming aggressive if disturbed and can inflict a nasty, infectious bite.The seals on the rocky platforms out from the carpark are females and their pups. These females have recently begun breeding at this location. For your safety and to avoid disturbing the seals, please remain 10 metres from any seal in the vicinity of the carpark.
Although this happened over a month ago (shortly before the report about the Elephant seal that had been shot with a spear gun), Kaikoura’s Ocean Research Institute Director, Dr Jody Weir, told the local media just yesterday that
“One of the pups killed on the weekend of June 20-21 was obviously run over by a car. While the exact cause of death for the second pup wasn’t definitive it was likely to have also been caused by a car, she said.
‘‘There was a lot of blood. It is very sad.’’ More fur seal pups have been using the car park and surrounding area this winter. This has probably been as a result of the rough seas and low water levels in the nearby pond where they normally gather, Weir said…
At this time of year mostly locals are likely to be using the car park and seal cubs aren’t exactly hard to avoid at low speeds. The signs are definitely large enough. This is the sort of place where people specifically go to find seals.
As yet no-one has come forward to admit running-over the pups, nor did anyone bother to report their injuries to the NZSPCA or animal rescue groups. But locals will be keen to downplay the significance of these deaths, so as to avoid adding more substance to Kaikoura’s bad reputation for killing its seals and sea birds.
In the recent past, local fishermen have killed seals and their pups (shot or beaten to death) as they believe the animals take too many fish from the surrounding sea.
Update: “Civilisation passed you by”
A reader has told us Point Kean is popular with hoons.
In 2010 a Kaikoura teenager was charged with the death of a seal after 2 fur seals were shot with a paintball gun, and one was run over with a motor vehicle.
Hayden John Ingram, 17, was charged with killing a seal without authority, possession of a paintball gun (which he tried loading with marbles) and driving with sustained loss of traction (i.e. doing burn outs). Ingham argued with tourists who tried to stop him shooting at the seals before running over the pup twice with his car. He later returned to the site with different friends and hit the adult seal with a steel pole. His defence lawyer said Ingram was from a “good family” who had been in Kaikoura for five generations.
Judge Stephen Erber said Ingram would be going straight to prison were it not for his clean record.
Ingram appeared in the Kaikoura District Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to killing a seal without authority, possessing a paintball gun and driving with sustained loss of traction near the Point Keen seal colony on June 18.
Judge Erber sentenced him to 200 hours’ community work for killing the seal and possessing the paintball gun, fined him $500, plus $250 reparation to the Kaikoura District Council, for sustained loss of traction and disqualified him from driving for six months.
“It’s extraordinary that you act in this way when a tourist tried to get you to stop,” Judge Erber said.
“This act of cruelty is thoroughly uncivilised behaviour. When a person acts in such a cruel and unthinking way, you could come to the conclusion that civilisation has just passed you by.”
A year later Hayden Ingram was injured and taken to hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis after his ute collided with a train near Kaikoura. He is believed to be related to Mark Ingham, of Ingham Electrical in the township.
Department of Conservation Clamps Down on Seal Viewings
The Department of Conservation (DOC) has recently introduced new regulations to restrict human access to seals in Kaikoura. This means town’s only tourism operator that specialises in swimming with seals may have to change its practices.
DOC wants to amend permits so as to keep a minimum 50 metres from breeding colonies.
At Ohau Point (a location were seals have been bashed and shot to death in the past) seals can’t be viewed from the sea within 200m of the shore. At the breeding colonies on Lynch’s Reef and Rhino Reef, boats and water craft will have to keep more than 50m from the water’s edge at all times. Elsewhere on the coast, where a seal is on or near to the shore a 20m exclusion zone applies. Swimmers too will have to keep their distance, they must stay 10 metres or more away from the water’s edge when seals are present on or near to the shore.
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