Seal pups don’t need to be rescued
12 August 2014
Animal lovers are being reminded that seal pups left alone on the beach have usually not been abandoned and do not need to be saved.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Animal Welfare Manager Dr Deb Kelly said it was common behaviour for seals and sea lions to leave their pups while they went to sea to hunt.
“We are conditioned to be concerned about young animals that are left alone and appear to be abandoned, but 99 times out of 100, juvenile seals and sea lions do not need our help,” Dr Kelly said.
“Mothers often leave their pups on shore for several days at a time, but they do return to care for them. The pups are not starving and even in this weather, they aren’t cold because they have a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm.
If someone moves a pup, the mother will return, find it gone and presume it is has been killed. She won’t come back again.
People think they are helping, but instead they may be creating an orphan that needs to be reared by humans and will never be able to survive in the wild because it hasn’t been learnt essential life skills from its mother.”
Dr Kelly said anyone who saw a seal pup should keep at least 50 metres away and ensure that they kept their dogs on the leash.
“Dogs can cause severe injuries to seals and sea lions of all ages,” she said.
“Seals are also powerful animals with sharp teeth, and they will use them if they feel threatened. Even if a seal appears to be ill or injured, you should never try to move it yourself. If you are concerned, keep your distance and observe the animal.
If it is emaciated or clearly entangled, sick or badly wounded, or it is a pup that has been alone for more than four or five days, call a wildlife rescue organisation for advice.
Seals and sea lions of all ages are a common sight on beaches around the state, and the best thing we can do for them is to leave them alone.
Senior Media Adviser
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