long-nosed fur seal
Aboriginal elder Darrell Sumner says the long-nosed fur seal are killing pelicans, other birds and fishesWikimedia Commons

An Aboriginal elder has stated that he will deal with South Australia's growing long-nosed fur seal population himself if the state's Department of Environment does not take decisive action.

Ngarrindjeri elder Darrell Sumner said that the seals, which he claims to be new to his area of Coorong near the mouth of the Murray River, are killing pelicans, other local birds and the community's fish.

Sumner told Australia's ABC News: "Just by the jetty there, you'll find four or five dead pelicans just sitting there. Down along the Coorong on the barrages, there's dead pelicans everywhere. The fishermen can also vouch for that when they're pulling the nets in."

After nearly being driven to extinction during the 19th century, the long-nosed fur seal has bounced back and there are roughly 200 of them living in the lower lakes in the region. It is thought that there are around 200,000 of them overall across Australia and New Zealand.

However, they are still on the protected species list and killing one of them comes with a AU$100,000 (£47,070, $73,535) fine or a two-year stint in jail.

Nonetheless, Sumner says that he is not deterred by the punishment. "I don't care what the Department of Environment says," he said. "They can arrest me and I'll see them in court.

"I'll be culling them ... And I suspect all my young fellows will come out with me, and the young girls, because they're willing and able to do it."

Neville Jaensch, mayor of the Coorong District Council, told ABC that he can empathise with Sumner's views. He said: "Local communities are, to some extent, disenfranchised by the failure to manage them [seals].

"The power to manage them rests with the state government. We cull kangaroos, koalas, emus. All sorts of native animals are being culled for the benefit of the environment and the wellbeing of the communities which inhabit the environment. This is the same thing again."