Seal ‘attacked by dogs’

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Golden slumbers: This seal, known as Arcto, often frequents bayside beaches including Chelsea beach. Picture: Gary Sissons

WILDLIFE officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning want to hear from anyone who saw dogs attacking a seal on Edithvale beach last week.

The alleged attack occurred after 7.30pm last Thursday (23 March) on the foreshore at the end of Alexandra St.

DELWP resource protection and management program manager Suriya Vij said the department has already received “multiple reports” of the attack.

“Two dogs reportedly approached a seal resting on the beach, nipped at the seal’s flippers as well as barking at and harassing it. These dogs were unleashed.

“Dogs are allowed along the Edithvale beach during the evening, but they must be on-leash.”

Ms Vij said the seal would have been distressed by the incident and could have seriously injured the dogs if it had retaliated.

“It’s up to owners to do the right thing and keep their dogs on lead where local laws require it,” she said. “The laws are in place for a reason, and one of them is the protection of wildlife, such as seals.

“Equally concerning are suggestions that a man was straddling or riding the seal, which is also illegal. Offenders can be fined several thousand dollars.

“It’s also just downright stupid as seals are large, wild animals that have been known to bite humans and dogs when threatened.

“The reports received suggest there were many people on the beach at the time, a number of whom were taking photos on their phones.”

Ms Vij urges anyone on the beach who saw the alleged attack, or who took photos of people going too close to a seal, to contact the department.

“We want to identify both the dogs’ owner and the individual who made physical contact with the seal and speak with them about these incidents.”

It is illegal to go within 30 metres of seals, or within 50 metres with a dog.

Such incidents should be reported to DELWP 136 186 or Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 29 March 2017

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