WARNING - DISTURBING CONTENT: Authorities are calling on the public for help after an Australian sea lion was shot to death on the shore of a pristine beach.
The endangered marine mammal was discovered at Cheynes Beach near Albany, Western Australia, by a member of the public who wishes to remain anonymous.
Western Australian Parks and Wildlife was alerted to the discovery on Monday morning and they attended the scene later that day.
Regional Wildlife Officer Jonathan Pridham told Yahoo News Australia that the team drove the animal to pathology for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.
“Externally, it looked like it had bullet holes in it and that was confirmed by the pathologist – that there were a number pellets in it which were consistent with coming from a shotgun,” Mr Pridham said.
“One of them had nicked the aorta, so that was the fatal shot and it probably would have died within a couple of minutes.
“The state of the body suggested it had been discovered within 24 hours of death, so some time over the weekend possibly.”
Mr Pridham said they have a couple of lines of inquiry, but stressed the more information authorities could get, the better chance they had of getting a result.
“We’re appealing to anybody who knows anything about it to contact us,” he said.
“These are a threatened species, classified as vulnerable and only found on the South Australian coastline and Western Australia.
“This has the potential to impact on the population as they’ve got quite small breeding colonies in Western Australia.”
“It can be significant if we lose one or two.”
Mr Pridham noted that under the biodiversity conservation act there is a maximum fine of $300,000 if somebody unlawfully kills a vulnerable species.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the department on (08) 9842 4500.
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