Beachgoers urged to give wildlife some space over summer

Beachgoers are being urged to watch out for wildlife this summer and give them space.

Animals like sea lions and fur seals are turning up more often on coastal beaches like Dunedin and Wellington.

Brionie is one of Dunedin's breeding sea lions. Snuggled up next to a log on Brighton Beach, she's after a bit of rest and to hide from the unwanted attention of frisky males.

Jim Fyfe, Department of Conversation (DoC) Otago biodiversity ranger, told Newshub the sea lions are often pregnant and come up onto the public beaches because the male sea lions are less likely to visit these locations.

It's not uncommon for members of the public to stumble across fur seals and sea lions, blending into their sandy surroundings.

However getting your phone or camera out to take selfies for social media isn't the right response.

"I think people are looking for that photo opportunity, and they're not thinking about the actual needs of the wildlife or respecting the wildlife," Mr Fyfe said.

DoC said it's been disappointed with the behaviour of people caught on camera disturbing or harassing the animals - which is an offence under the Wildlife Act.

New Zealand sea lion numbers are critically low and DoC recommends you keep 10 to 20 metres away from them on land.

Dog owners are also being urged to control their pets, keeping them on a lead on the beach.

And there's another good reason to not let your pets or children get too close: a sea lion's bite is six times more powerful than a dog's.

"They actually move surprisingly fast for their size. They can get up and run, a bit like a bear would run. And over short distances they can [run] 25km an hour," Mr Fyfe said.

DoC has a simple message this summer: there's plenty of room for all, but give wildlife their space.



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