Angry Seal Attacks Old Man in New Zealand; District Council to Decide Fate of Seal

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By Reissa Su | June 2, 2014 1:36 PM EST

An elderly man was mauled by an angry seal in New Zealand. The 85-year-old man was rushed to the hospital with leg injuries. According to a report by Stuff News, the seal jumped on to a walkway in New Plymouth just as the old man was passing by.

Reuters
Weddell seals lie atop ice at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, in this picture taken January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Pauline Askin

Kevin Harvey, an eyewitness to the incident, said he saw the walkway covered in blood following the attack. While the elderly man was being treated for his injuries, armed police provided a protective barrier.

According to Harvey, the seal had tried to lunge at him when he ran past the walkway but he threw stones at the seal to scare it away when it "kept on coming."

The New Zealand fur seal can weigh up to 150 kilogrammes. The New Zealand Department of Conservation has been warning people to stay away from seals and keep a distance of at least 10 metres. The department said the seals can become aggressive towards people.

Meanwhile, the New Plymouth District Council has announced it will consider placing warning signs on the popular walkway in New Plymouth following the mauling of the elderly man. The council said the seal will not be shot unless it is absolutely necessary.

The unnamed elderly man is currently in a stable condition in Taranaki Base Hospital despite suffering from serious leg injuries. The council will meet with the Department of Conservation to discuss the welfare of the aggressive seal. A spokesman for the department, Darryn Rattana, said the seal is now on the remote area of the beach basking in the sun.

Rattana said they have placed a cordon on the walkway side as they continue to monitor the seal. He was hoping that the seal will go back to the ocean by itself. He said shooting the seal will only happen when a person is in "absolute danger."

He doesn't recommend putting up fences on the walkway since it keeps wildlife and nature away from people. Rattana said signs may be possible as long as they don't look intrusive. 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Weddell seals lie atop ice at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, in this picture taken January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Pauline Askin
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