The harbor city of Dunedin in New Zealand regularly shuts down roads during the summer months to allow safe passage to wildlife. These closures typically last no longer than one or two days at a time. This year though, the city council decided to close a popular road for an entire month in order for a sea lion to nest safely with its pup.
“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) … New Zealand sea lions are endangered and one of the rarest sea lion species in the world.”
The month-long closure has been welcomed by locals, many of whom urged the council to make it permanent to protect vulnerable wildlife, such as sea lions. The animals have long been special residents of Dunedin City. As reported by The Guardian, pups who had been born in the city later return to have their own pups there, and have been found giving birth in paddocks, farm sheds, and beside motorways.
There are about 12,000 sea lions left in New Zealand and their main breeding population remains in decline, facing threats from fisheries, diseases, food availability, and human impact.