Two sea lion pups were recently born at the Chisholm Links golf course, so Dunedin residents are being asked to keep dogs on leads and drive carefully while in the area.
‘Hiriwa’ had her latest pup on January 2, the fourth pup she’s given birth to at the course.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Biodiversity Ranger Jim Fyfe says Hiriwa caused a bit more fuss than usual before having her pup this year when she crossed Tahuna Road near Tainui School trying to get even further inland.
“Of course, if her pup had been born on the other side of Tahuna Road it would have been a nightmare when Hiriwa started regularly crossing the busy road to forage.
“So after allowing her a good night’s sleep she was shepherded back to the golf course on the morning of New Year’s Eve, and thankfully settled down at a site she had previously pupped at.
Jim Fyfe says the other mother, who pupped not far from John Wilson Drive, is relatively inexperienced.
“Her one previous pup was unfortunately hit and killed by a car at Papanui Inlet in the winter of 2022, which highlights the importance of drivers being careful and looking out for sea lions.
“A 4-year-old male sea lion was also hit and killed by a car on boxing day. It’s not just the pups that are vulnerable so we’re asking drivers to slow down in areas where there are sea lions present.”
Because of the numbers of dogs being walked in the area, DOC has talked with the Chisholm Links management and Dunedin City Council (DCC) about requiring all dogs to be kept on leads if they are being taken around or across the golf course over the next month.
So far, 9 pups have been seen in the Dunedin region from Warrington to Ocean View this breeding season.
After staying with the pups for about a week, the mothers start leaving their pup alone while they forage at sea, Jim Fyfe says.
“These pups are not world-wise and only weigh 9-12 kg when first left alone, so they are particularly vulnerable to being picked up by larger dogs.”
Summer Rangers have been putting out signage to alert people to the presence of sea lions and DCC animal services will be patrolling John Wilson Drive and the golf course more frequently in the coming weeks.