Police say they have identified four teenagers that allegedly shot a leopard seal in the face at a Northland beach.
The animal was found dead by locals near Glinks Gully on July 24, with injuries believed to have been caused by a rifle or shot gun. It had been shot multiple times.
A video showing the seal's dead body caused widespread outrage on social media.
On Wednesday, Acting Sergeant Willie Paniora from Dargaville Police said that two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-olds had been referred to Youth Aid in relation to the seal's death.
"We hope this serves as a notice that we will not tolerate this type of cruel and reckless behaviour."
He said police were "looking into" how the youths obtained a firearm, Stuff reports.
Leopard seals, which dwell mostly in Antarctica, are protected under New Zealand law.
Those found guilty of harming the animals could face up to two years' imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.