26 Jul 2013

DoC hunting sea lion killer

9:18 pm on 26 July 2013

The Department of Conservation is again appealing for help, this time to track down the killer of a critically endangered sea lion shot on Stewart Island in June.

It follows an earlier plea for help to find out who shot two fur seals in Kaikoura on 20 July.

The department had been keeping the killing of the female sea lion secret while it investigated but had come up short and decided to seek help from the public.

DoC Stewart Island manager Brent Bevan says it's hard to comprehend why anybody would want to kill a sea lion.

"To me it seems quite a cowardly act - the animals are known to be a bit aggressive, they do bluff charges, they'll run forward and grunt at you, just telling you to back off and get away.

"Whether someone got scared by that and shot it or what some other motivation is there, I really don't know."

Mr Bevan says there are fewer than 40 breeding female sea lions left on New Zealand's three main islands.