Department of Conservation finds sea lion shot on Catlins beach
Department of Conservation staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot on a Catlins beach.
Biodiversity ranger Ros Cole says the male sea lion/rāpoka was reported dead on Tautuku Beach on September 10.
"A local vet performed a necropsy confirming what we suspected - the sea lion had been shot.
"It's really disheartening someone would do this. Sea lions are not only critically endangered but also a taonga species special to Ngāi Tahu," Cole said.
It is second time a sea lion had been shot on the Catlins coast this year. In April, another male was found dead at Jacks Bay.
"To discover someone has such reckless disregard for our protected species is extremely disappointing," Cole said.
The sea lion appeared to be otherwise healthy and in good condition, Cole said.
It is illegal to injure or kill sea lions, and anyone apprehended faces serious penalties, including up to two years' jail and a fine of up to $250,000 under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and five years' jail and a fine of up to $100,000 under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
DOC is urging the public to come forward with information about the shooting.
Sea lions are fully protected in New Zealand, with the same threat classification as kākāpō and kiwi.
In July, the Sea Lion Threat Management Plan was released.
It aims to halt the decline of the New Zealand sea lion population within five years and ensure the population is stable or increasing within 20 years.
A particular goal for Te Waipounamu is that there are no cases of sea lions being deliberately killed by humans.