As the number of fur seals coming ashore rises in Northland, the Department of Conservation is urging motorists to take special care when driving on the beach to avoid running them over.
DoC Kauri Coast Operations manager Stephen Soole said at least one fur seal pup has died this season on Northland's Ripiro coastline as a result of being hit by a vehicle.
From July to September each year there's an influx in adolescent seals appearing on the coast and further inland.
"When on the beach, people should keep an eye out for seals at all times, but particularly this time of the year when young pups are being weaned and adult seals are seen on the beach more often than at other times of the year.
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"Normal road rules and speed limits apply at all times when driving on the beach," Soole said.
According to Baylys Beach residents, four dead fur seals were recently seen scattered not far from the entrance to the beach along the Ripiro coastline. However, it has been determined that none of them died as a result of being run over.
"It is not unusual to see this number of dead seals on the beach at this time of the year. It
could mean that it has been a good breeding season," Soole said.
He said the pups died for several reasons, the main one being a lack of food.
"If food is in short supply or they haven't been successful at catching their own food, then pups can become weak and emaciated."
Soole said pups coming ashore to rest need to be left alone to improve their chances of recovery.
What to do if you belive a seal is in danger, injured or being harassed by people or dogs:
•If so, call emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
•Never attempt to move or handle a seal, they are aggressive when stressed and it's important not to separate a mother and her pup.
•If you're unsure call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).