Police have ‘solid lead’ in Kaikōura seal killing case – DOC

Police and the Department of Conservation are working together to find those responsible for killing at least 19 protected kekeno (New Zealand fur seals) last October.

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Police and the Department of Conservation are working together to find those responsible for killing at least 19 protected kekeno (New Zealand fur seals) last October.

Following the killing of 19 protected New Zealand fur seals in Kaikōura last year, investigators are appealing for the public’s help in bringing the killers to justice.

Six dead seals were found at Ōhau Point on Labor Day last October, while a further 13 seals were found at two sites in the Half Moon Bay area.

Autopsies revealed that eight of the seals died from gunshot wounds, while the cause of death for the other 11 couldn’t be determined. Investigators were treating all the deaths as suspicious.

It is believed at least two firearms of different calibers were used to shoot the seals, and it’s thought more than one person may have shot them.

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The Department of Conservation’s principal compliance officer Jeff Hall said they were working with police to investigate a new line of inquiry arising from information they had recently received.

Hall said the new information was a solid lead now being pursued – but DOC still needed more help from the public.

“We are grateful for the information we’ve received and while that’s encouraging, we can’t be certain of the outcome at this stage. We continue to appeal for people to come forward if they have information about the seals’ deaths, however insignificant they think it may be.”

The Kaikōura coastline is world renowned for its abundance of marine life, and is home to a large population of New Zealand fur seals.

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The Kaikōura coastline is world renowned for its abundance of marine life, and is home to a large population of New Zealand fur seals.

DOC staff believed other people in the community could corroborate the recent information received – and further information from residents could prove vital, Hall said.

“DOC and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura are deeply concerned about the callous killing of legally protected native fur seals, and we hope with public help we will be able to identify and prosecute those responsible and hold them to account.”

The Marine Mammals Protection Act included a clause limiting the timeframe in which someone could be charged to a year from the date of the offence.

Hall said DOC was keen to see a charge laid before time ran out.

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.

Anyone who has information 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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