Date: 10 February 2012
Analysis of the remains of a 1 year old male sea lion recently found on the Otago Peninsula by Department of Conservation (DOC) staff revealed it was shot. DOC is asking the public to come forward with any information about firearm activity in the Papanui Inlet area around the 5 January 2012.
The remains, consisting mainly of bones together with sea lion identification tag #9011, were discovered on a local beach on 29 January. A .22 bullet was found with the remains.
The young male sea lion was last seen alive on the 5 January at the head of the Papanui Inlet by Elm Wildlife Tours operators Shaun and Brian Templeton. The sea lion had a puncture wound consistent with a bullet hole. DOC was contacted however the young male sea lion returned to the water before any veterinary treatment could be administered.
Photographic images taken of the sea lion on the 5 January were sent to the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University. Although in the absence of tissue analysis it was impossible to be certain, they thought the wound appeared very fresh and that the injury was probably less than a couple of days old.
New Zealand sea lions are listed as a Nationally Critical threatened species. The sea lion shares this threat status with iconic New Zealand species such as the kakapo and kiwi. “Those that shoot marine mammals may be ignorant of how endangered their target is, but the law is simple - it is an offence to kill or harm any marine mammal” said DOC Coastal Otago Ranger Jim Fyfe.
“Malicious acts against sea lions are taken very seriously” said Jim. “It’s extremely concerning that a critically endangered species could be targeted in this way on the Otago Peninsula, celebrated for its wildlife.” A report has been made to the police and they are currently investigating the incident.
DOC is asking anyone who may have information about any firearm related activities in the vicinity of Papanui Inlet during the first week of January to contact the Dunedin DOC office on +64 3 477 0677 or the Dunedin Central Police Station on +64 3 471 4800.
The Department of Conservation urges the public to report immediately any harassment or disturbance of marine mammals to the 0800 DOC HOTline (0800 362468).