A critically endangered sea lion has been found shot dead on a Catlins beach.
The male sea lion was reported dead on Tuatuku Beach on Sunday, September 10.
"A local vet performed a necropsy confirming what we suspected – the sea lion had been shot," says Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Ros Cole.
"It's really disheartening someone would do this, sea lions are not only critically endangered but also a taonga species special to Ngāi Tahu."
Sea lions are a fully protected species in New Zealand.
Earlier this year another male sea lion was found dead in Jacks Bay on the Catlins coast.
Police are urging anyone with information about the dead sea lion to contact them. Okawak Police: 03 419 1070.