Evidence shows sea lions were shot and killed with gunfire

VIDEO: Sea lion shot and killed

SEATTLE — Update: Necropsies performed on two dead sea lions that washed ashore in West Seattle Wednesday show evidence they were shot and killed with gunfire.

Previously, it was not known if the sea lions had been shot and killed with a gun.

The Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network said there was “evidence of bullet wounds and projectiles” found in two adult male sea lions. One had extensive internal damage.

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Original story: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries office confirmed Wednesday that two sea lions were found shot and killed near West Seattle.

The discovery of another sea lion carcass was made near Harbor Avenue and California Way on Wednesday. Biologists with NOAA say the animal's injuries appear suspicious. A necropsy will determine if the California sea lion was also killed with gunfire.

Several additional sea lions have also been found dead in the past several weeks, and veterinarians are in the process of confirming how they died.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to kill sea lions.

Bruce didn't want to share his last name but tells KIRO 7 he witnessed a boat shooting at a barge full of sea lions last Sunday night. He was walking along the shore in West Seattle last Sunday when he heard multiple gunshots.

"There was about nine or 10 shots with different guns," he said. "Then, there was no more barking."

He believes the sea lion that washed up on shore is one of the animals allegedly killed by fishermen on Sunday.

"They shot five of them from the same spot," he said. "We tried calling police but they said it was out of their district."

There's a long history of sea lions being gunned down in West Seattle this time of year as the animals swim back from California, says Michael Milstein with NOAA Fisheries.

"There are certainly people out there who believe the sea lions are eating too many fish. Two confirmed have been shot," Milstein said, "We're concerned both about the animals being killed illegally and public safety as well."

Residents say this is a string of crime they weren't expecting to experience in Seattle.

"Just to find out that it's happening in our neighborhood is unfortunate and really concerning," said Grace Gunlongson.

According to the West Seattle Blog, a resident discovered the carcass of a sea lion at Jack Block Park in October. The park is half a mile away from the location of Wednesday's discovery.

NOAA has set up a hotline for residents in West Seattle who see concerning or suspicious behavior: (800) 853-1964

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