At the Papanui Inlet last January, a sea lion was seen with a suspected bullet wound but disappeared shortly thereafter before the Department of Conservation (DOC) could investigate. Under the Marine Mammals Act, penalties of up to six months’ jail and fines up to $250,000 can be imposed to those caught shooting after marine mammals may it be due to ignorance of how endangered their target is. But the law is simple — it is an offence to kill or harm any marine mammal.
The shooting of this New Zealand sea lion is considered an endangered species, similar to the dwindling number of the African elephant or the kakapo.
Police have investigated after the decomposed body of the same sea lion discovered last January, was found to have a .22 bullet. The remains of the sea lion was discovered by the Department of Conservation’s marine ranger Jim Fyfe who thinks that the sea lion’s death has a significant impact on the environment as it is listed as a nationally critical threatened species of today.
“We were starting to hope this sort of behavior might be in the past,” said Mr McConkey who has been studying the local sea lions for 17 years. His comment mainly focused on the locals who were not taking care of the population of this endangered species of the sea lions to date. With the main population at the Auckland Islands in rapid decline, it was hoped the sea lions in Otago would increase in number.
The Department of Conservation spokesman David Agnew says there’s a lot of local support for sea lion conservation that he hopes would prompt the local’s awareness into taking care of the sea lion and hopes that it will lead to finding whoever was responsible for shooting the sea lion recently discovered.
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