Reward Offered for Seal Killers

Environmental group Sea Shepherd has offered a reward of $NZ11,500 to catch the “cowards” who clubbed 23 seals to death at a New Zealand tourist spot.

The slaughter of the protected animals at the Ohau Point seal colony, near the South Island town of Kaikoura, had shocked New Zealanders, Sea Shepherd spokeswoman Lisa Baines said.

“The people responsible for this barbaric attack are just cowards,” she said.

“By offering a reward we’re hoping someone will come forward and we can see them convicted.

“Someone out there knows something or has heard something.”

The seals, including eight pups, some only a few days old, were bludgeoned to death last week at the seal colony next to one of the South Island’s main highways, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said.

Experts say the death toll from the attack could rise as orphaned seal pups struggle to survive without their parents.

New Zealand fur seals are a protected species and the DOC said the seal killers could face six months’ jail and fines of up to $NZ250,000 if they were caught.

It said there were not yet any solid leads in finding the attackers but public support for the efforts to track them down had been “heartening”.

The motive for the clubbing is unknown, although the DOC said there was some antagonism towards the animals stemming from a “misplaced belief that seals were eating large amounts of fish species valued for human consumption”.

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