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A conservation group says a dead sea lion that washed ashore in British Columbia this week had been shot in the head, amid calls from some fishermen for a cull.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says in a news release that the flippered mammal was found on Hornby Island, and it alleges its members have also observed abuse of the animals on the water.

The society says the sea lions depend on herring for food and it’s calling on the federal government to place a moratorium on commercial roe herring fisheries in the Strait of Georgia to help stocks rebound.

Meanwhile, some commercial fishermen are asking the federal government to approve a seal and sea lion cull to protect declining salmon stocks, arguing their numbers have spiked in recent years.

Several scientists have disputed that claim, saying the mammals’ numbers have only rebounded to natural levels after they were depleted by human activity.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says officers are investigating reports of the dead sea lion, adding that it’s illegal to disturb, harm or kill marine mammals.

The society’s news release comes two weeks after a video showing an explosive “bear banger” being thrown into waters teeming with sea lions stirred controversy.

The fisherman responsible has said he never intended to harm any animals, only get them away from his boat.

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