11/30/2012 11:40 EST | Updated 01/30/2013 05:12 EST

Witnesses needed after sea lion shot, decapitated, on Vancouver Island

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. - The bullet riddled and decapitated remains of a sea lion have been found on a Campbell River, B.C., beach.

Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Paul Cottrell said Friday the carcass was found nearly a week ago on Tyee Spit, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Cottrell said evidence suggests the sea lion's head was removed after the animal had been killed by several gunshot wounds to the shoulder.

He said there's no obvious motive but that such incidents have occurred in the past.

"It used to be a very common site to find shot seals and sea lions," Cottrell said. "There was quite a competition in the past between fishers and seals and sea lions."

He said that's one of the reasons for creation of the B.C. Marine Mammal Response Network, a coast-wide organization to examines deaths of marine mammals.

Sometimes the mammals are beached after being caught in a net or killed by whales that don't end up eating them, Cottrell said.

He said members are now relying on possible witnesses to come forward to identify a suspect the recent shooting case. (CKAY, The Canadian Press)