Sea lion’s death will hurt species

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The shooting of an 11-month-old sea lion pup near Portobello could impact the recovery of the New Zealand sea lion species, Department of Conservation officials say.
Doc is appealing to the public to help it identify who shot the pup, which was found with a puncture wound in its side consistent with a bullet hole, and also a deep cut.
Doc coastal manager Annie Wallace said the sea lion, which Doc named Rua, was one of 11 pups born on the Otago Peninsula last year. ‘‘The impact of her death on the recovery of the New Zealand sea lion is not to be underestimated.’’ ‘‘The few female sea lions around Dunedin are precious to the survival of the species. ‘‘Rua was an otherwise completely healthy pup and . .. she would have gone on to be a productive breeder.’’ It is illegal to kill or harm sea lions, with penalties for offenders of 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 and the police are both investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Doc’s Dunedin office on 477-0677, the Doc hotline (0800-362-468) or the Dunedin Central Police Station on 471-4800.