Six Fur Seal Pups Found Decapitated In New Zealand
Warning: Graphic Content
Six baby fur seals have been found decapitated on New Zealand's South Island.
The gruesome discovery was made by a tourism operator on Monday on the Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch.
No evidence of the pups' heads have been found, and it is believed they were killed elsewhere and dumped, the NZ Department of Conservation said in a statement.
“Due to the disturbing, brutal and violent nature of this crime against defenceless seal pups, it has been reported to the police,” Andy Thompson, Department of Conservation Mahaanui Operations Manager, said.
DOC rangers have buried three of the pups, and the other three have been sent to Massey University to find the cause of death.
“While the necropsy will determine the exact cause of death, we believe it’s incredibly unlikely sharks would have bitten the heads off six seals but left the bodies untouched," Thompson said.
The remote peninsula is south of Christchurch, and popular for fishing.
While the reason behind the "senseless" killings it not yet known, several cases in the past have seen fisherman blame low fish numbers for killing seals.
“Regrettably, antagonism towards seals is often due to the misplaced belief that seals are eating large amounts of fish species valued for human consumption," Thompson said.
It is a criminal offence in NZ to harass, disturb or harm fur seals as they are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.