This story contains images that may be disturbing to some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

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 alleges its crew has also observed abuse of the animals on the water.

The society says the sea lions depend on herring runs for food and is calling on Ottawa 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 pinniped 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.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada officers said Wednesday they are aware of reports of the dead sea lion and are investigating the incident. DFO is also reminding the public that Section 7 of the Marine Mammal Regulations states that it is illegal to disturb, harm or kill marine mammals.  Anyone witnessing a potential contravention of the Marine Mammal Regulations can contact their local fishery officer detachment or call 1-800-465-4336 (all of British Columbia) or 604-607-4186 (Greater Vancouver).

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.

With files from CHEK News 

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said this dead sea lion was found with a gunshot wound on Hornby Island. (Alan Fletcher/Submitted to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

The Canadian Press