AUTHORITIES are appealing for anyone with information about the apparent fatal mauling by dogs of a juvenile Australian fur seal at McCrae beach on Monday (9 October).
The Conservation Regulator Victoria is seeking information after the seal was found on the beach with bite wounds and other injuries.
Officers are investigating the incident following a report from the Melbourne Zoo Marine Response Unit which were alerted to a wounded juvenile fur seal by a member of the public. Marine wildlife officers attended the beach at 10.30am but found the animal had already died as a result of its injuries.
The seal’s body was assessed at the beach and found to have sustained puncture wounds to its body and flippers. A subsequent vet assessment at Melbourne Zoo confirmed the seal had suffered severe trauma from a dog attack and that was the most likely cause of death.
Seals are protected by law, and it is an offence to allow a dog to chase, attack or injure them. Pet owners face penalties of up to $4807 under the Wildlife Act 1975 and up to $48,077 or 12 months’ jail under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
Additional penalties up to $3846 apply under the Wildlife (marine mammals) Regulations 2019 to dog owners who allow their pets within 30 metres of a seal.
McCrae beach is leash free from 7pm to 9am during daylight savings time.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has reminded dog owners about the requirement to keep their animals under effective control at all times while exercising them on peninsula beaches.
Anyone with information can report it confidentially to Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au