Authorities have unfortunately had to euthanise a large Fur Seal located near Port Fairy’s busy boat ramp area today.
This follows an operation this morning to capture the seal, which involved staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Zoos Victoria’s AGL Marine Response Unit, the Victorian Fisheries Authority and the Moyne Shire.
The seal had taken up residence at Port Fairy’s boat ramp in 2016, eating fish scraps discarded by anglers using the nearby fish cleaning facilities.
DELWP Barwon South West Program Manager of Compliance Operations Mark Breguet said: “Because this seal was regularly fed at Port Fairy, he developed a dependency on humans which was potentially dangerous.”
“There were a number of recorded instances where the seal aggressively approached the fish cleaning table and grabbed fish from anglers.”
“The seal, which weighed an estimated 200 kilograms, was also known to chase visitors in the vicinity of the boat ramp area and vigorously demand food.”
“Before undertaking today’s operation, DELWP wildlife officers spent a significant amount of time monitoring the seal, and educating fishermen, tourists and locals about the risks related to feeding the seal.”
“Warning signs were placed at the boat ramp and fish cleaning table, and bins for fish waste disposal were installed.”
“Unfortunately, the seal’s behaviour became more aggressive and eventually posed a safety issue for visitors to the boat ramp and riverfront area.”
“Today the team had planned to relocate the seal to another location.”
“However, upon assessment by the vet team from Zoos Victoria’s AGL Marine Response Unit, it was found that the seal was suffering from recent serious injuries.”
“These injuries would have resulted in a long and painful death for the seal, therefore the vet team decided to humanely euthanise the seal to prevent any further suffering.”
“The wounds appeared to be caused by bites received from another male seal during competitive breeding behaviour.”
To discourage other seals taking up residence, authorities urge members of the public to dispose of fishing waste appropriately and not throw their fish waste in the water where it can attract wild seals and encourage them to become dependent.
Anyone found feeding food to a seal can be subject to a fine of up to $3,171.
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