New Zealand city closes busy road for a month to let sea lion family nest

6 days ago 9

A sea lion and her pup have been granted priority access to a busy road for a month in a New Zealand city, with vehicles banned to allow the pair to nest safely.

Dunedin city council announced in a Facebook post that they had 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 council said. 

“You can still visit the area by foot or bicycle, but please give the sea lions lots of space (at least 20m). If you’re walking your dog in the area, please keep it on a lead as sea lions can be hard to spot." 

The council added that New Zealand sea lions are endangered and are one of the rarest species in the world.

The move was welcomed by locals, with some calling for the closure to be made permanent while others called for a ban on dogs in the area as they have been known to attack sea lions.

The marine animal will be making trips to the ocean to feed, with St Claire beach just over the road from the Chisholm Links golf course.

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While the city, which is home to 120,000 people, often temporarily shuts roads in the summer to allow the vulnerable wildlife to nest and cross roads safely, closures are usually only for a day or two.

“As long as golfers give them a respectable distance and bear in mind that they are there and not hit the golf balls in their direction, I think it should go off quite smoothly,” Department of Conservation coastal Otago biodiversity ranger Jim Fyfe told The New Zealand Herald.

“Maybe I’m more worried about dog walkers taking their dogs off the golf course. They might not expect to see a sea lion puppy coming out of the wood.”

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