Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC seeks information about a sea lion discovered with gunshot wounds on a beach in the Catlins.

Date:  21 April 2017

Dead sea lion found on Catlins beach.
Dead sea lion found on Catlins beach 

DOC is urging the public to come forward with information after a male sea lion/rāpoka was discovered with gunshot wounds on a beach in the Catlins.

The sea lion came ashore at Jacks Bay over the Easter holiday period and clambored up the beach to lay in the dunes, but later died.

“We are fortunate that members of the Jacks Bay community reported the animal to DOC and while we were not able to save it, a vet was available and supervised a necropsy, which showed that the sea lion had been shot causing a haemorrage in its lungs,” DOC’s acting Operations Manager for Murihiku Chris Bowen said.

“This sea lion appeared to be in in a good condition. He died from serious blood loss and it would have been a slow, painful death.”

“The shooting of an endangered animal is hard to comprehend. There are only about 10,000 New Zealand sea lions left so losing one in this way is particularly tragic,” Chris Bowen said.

Dean Whaanga from Awarua Runanga commented that it is extremely sad to see this protected animal treated in such a way. “They have the right to exist in their environment and must be respected as such.”

DOC is leading an investigation into the incident and police have been alerted. A huge amount of thanks goes to the Jacks Bay community with their support with this incident.

It is illegal to injure or kill sea lions and anyone apprehended faces serious penalties, including up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and five years’ prison and a fine of up to $100,000 under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

DOC is asking the public to help find who is responsible.  Anyone who may have information about this incident should contact the Murihiku/ Invercargill DOC office on +64 3 211 2400 or the DOC hotline 0800 362 468.

Background information

The New Zealand sea lion is found only in New Zealand, and is one of the world’s rarest sea lions. With only about 10,000 remaining their threat status is nationally critical, the highest threat classification in New Zealand – a status shared with kiwi and kākāpō.

Breeding is mostly restricted to the New Zealand subantarctic, although a slow return to mainland New Zealand is now occurring.

 A sea lion threat management plan is currently being developed by DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries.  


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