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Rewards offered for information leading to conviction of seal killers

By Lucy Brake - 13 Dec 2010 10:34:1 GMT
Rewards offered for information leading to conviction of seal killers

Conservation groups have come together to put up reward money for any information that will result in an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for clubbing to death 23 fur seals. Late last week, the slaughtered seals were found at one of New Zealand's most popular destinations for seeing fur seals in their own habitat. Eight of the seals were new born pups who were just a few days old. Other seals were found harmed but they did manage to survive the attacks. The Department of Conservation in NZ believes that there is a misplaced belief that the fur seals are directly competing with humans for limited fish stocks.

Now the public are being asked to help find the people responsible for this totally barbaric attack. Under New Zealand law fur seals are fully protected, so it is a criminal offence to harm them or kill them. The Marine Mammals Protection Act has been put in place to provide protection to all marine mammals, including fur seals. Under this legislation the perpetrators of the fur seal killings could face prison or a significant fine for the harm caused.

The Sea Shepherd, known around the world for their staunch protection of whales, sharks and other marine creatures, has put up $NZ11,500 in reward money for evidence that will help convict those accountable. The police are hoping someone will come forward with information that will lead to an arrest.

“Anyone who could do such a thing is a low-life coward capable of extreme cruelty, and thus a potential danger, not just to wildlife, but to humans also”, says the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. According to the Department of Conservation's Area Manager Dave Hayes, “some of the dead seals appear to have been killed a week ago; others look to have been killed around a week or so beforehand”, which means that the attacks on the seals were probably carried out over a number of days.

Other groups that have put up reward money to help find the criminals include the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a lobby group for animal rights. The Sea Shepherd has provided a confidential email contact for people who d not want to disclose their own name when providing information. Department of Conservation have received calls from other groups and individuals offering reward money and are hopeful that this will provide a strong incentive for someone with information to come forward.