A city in South Island, New Zealand, is closing a busy road for a month to allow an endangered sea lion to nest safely with her pup.The heartwarming news was recently shared by the Dunedin City Council.
“We’ve closed John Wilson Ocean Drive to vehicles for the next month to allow some special residents to use the road safely. A New Zealand sea lion and her pup have taken up residence at the golf course next door and are regularly crossing the road to get to the beach,” the Dunedin City Council noted in a post on its Facebook page.
While people are still able to visit the area by foot or bicycle, they must stay at least 20m away from the New Zealand sea lions which are endangered, and one of the world’s rarest species of sea lions on earth. The Dunedin City Council also advised people walking their dogs in the area to keep them on a leash.
According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, there are only an estimated 12,000 New Zealand sea lions left. Sadly, their main breeding population remains in decline due to numerous threats including: fisheries interactions, pup mortality, diseases, and food availability. Human impacts also threaten the sea lions. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists often encroached on the sea lions beach habitat for selfies and photographs.
A Threat Management Plan which was published in 2017 aims to stop the decline of the New Zealand sea lion population within five years and ensure the population is stable or increasing within 20 years. It is an offense of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a New Zealand sea lion. Under local law, anyone who kills a sea lion could receive up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $250,000 in New Zealand which equates to $178,000 in the United States.
Local residents are applauding the Dunedin City Council’s decision to protect the sea lions, with many wanting the temporary closure to become permanent.
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The post Breaking! Compassionate City In New Zealand Closes Busy Road To Protect An Endangered Nesting Sea Lion & Her Pup appeared first on World Animal News.