Who on earth could shoot a sea lion?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the shooting and injuring of sea lions in the San Diego, California, area. The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. This adds to an existing reward of $2,000 offered by San Diego Animal Advocates.
Over the past year, eight sea lions had to be euthanized due to severe injuries from gunshot wounds to their faces and bodies. Bullets were found lodged in the spine, lungs, abdomen, eyes and flippers of the sea lions, who were stranded on San Diego beaches. The animals were paralyzed, blind, sick with infection and shattered joints, or unable to eat or swim. Six of the animals were shot in the last two months.
Scott Beckstead, Western regional director for The HSUS, said, “These intelligent, social creatures experienced immense suffering from such senseless shootings. We are grateful for NOAA’s work to investigate these heinous crimes and implore anyone with information to come forward.”
Harming a sea lion is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed.
Anyone with information concerning the shootings is asked to call NOAA Special Agent Michelle Zetwo at 619-557-5494 or the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.