Police are investigating after the remains of a shot sea lion was discovered in Otago.
Sea lions are on the critically endangered list and there are about 80 to 100 on the peninsula.
Department of Conservation Otago programme manager David Agnew says tourist operators saw the animal on 5 January, which at that stage was just wounded.
They took photos of the injury behind one of its flippers, but it disappeared before DoC could help treat it.
An analysis by Massey University staff confirmed the wound was from a gunshot and indicated that the sea lion was probably shot two days earlier.
The same animal's decomposing remains were found on a beach nearby on 29 January along with a bullet from a rifle.
Mr Agnew is urging anyone with information about the shooting to contact police.