Sea lions are being shot and killed along California’s coast, and police are baffled as to who is killing the marine animals.
Since August, there have been four sea lions shot along the Malibu coast, including two found earlier this month.
“The past couple of weeks, there have been more than usual animals stranding on the beaches. We are getting a greater number with bullet holes in them,” said Mike Remski, marine mammal rehabilitation manager at the California Wildlife Center. “For the ones that wash-up dead, necropsies are done and we try to retrieve the bullets to find a cause of death. If they’re alive, they’re sent immediately to the rehabilitation center [Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC)] in San Pedro.”
A rescue team tried to find one of the shot sea lions that washed ashore on October 10. A crowd of people gathered around the wounded animal, which suffered four gunshots, but they were unable to save it in time.
Remski, who inspected another animal that was found dead the following day, said the bullet appeared to come from a high-caliber gun.
“I happened to be there when they were doing the x-rays and it looked like a larger bullet, larger than a.22 and it went into the shoulder and most likely was the cause of death of the animal.”
He added that an increased number of sea lions are shot during fishing season when fishermen are trying to protect their catch, but these killing have been coming out of the season.
The killings come just as the outlook is improving for sea lions in general. The eastern Steller sea lion, which lives along the West Coast between Alaska and California, has seen its numbers improve and was recently taken off the Endangered Species List.
But in the meantime, investigators in California said they want to get to the bottom of who is killing the sea lions and bring them to justice.