Death of sea lion: 52-year-old man arrested, charged with wilful mistreatment of an animal

New Zealand sea lion are a  critically-endangered species. Photo / Niwa
New Zealand sea lion are a critically-endangered species. Photo / Niwa

A 52-year-old man has been arrested after the death of a sea lion.

The sea lion was killed in the village of Portobello in the Dunedin Harbour on November 5 last year.

The man has been charged with wilful mistreatment of an animal, under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and is scheduled to appear in Dunedin District Court on Friday.

Police said in a statement the arrest was the result of a joint investigation between Dunedin police, the Department of Conservation and the Dunedin Sea Lion Trust.

They said that because the matter was now before the court, they could not provide further comment.

The body of 11-month-old female sea lion Rua was discovered in November and DOC said at the time it appeared to have been shot.

They appealed to the public for information on the person responsible.

"The sea lion had a puncture wound in her side consistent with a bullet hole and also a deep cut on the other side of her body," Coastal Otago operations manager Annie Wallace said at the time.

"The brutal senseless shooting of a defenceless threatened native animal is a tragedy. Rua was one of only 11 sea lion pups born on the peninsula last summer. 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 we have every reason to believe she would have gone on to be a productive breeder."

- NZ Herald

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