Following a necropsy, another sea lion has been confirmed to have been shot and killed in Puget Sound, according to the Seal Sitters Blubberblog.
Ten have been confirmed shot in King and Kitsap counties since late September, and 16 in total have been found dead so far, including one that was decapitated.
X-rays confirmed the tenth sea lion was shot in the head.
“Historically, maybe we will see maybe one to four around this time of year. It may increase December through February, coincidental with fish runs so during that time the cases may increase a little bit. But this is a huge spike - almost eight times our normal,” said Casey Mclean, executive director of SR3, a sea life response group.
An X-ray of one necropsied sea lion shows five shotgun pellets of two different calibers lodged in the head.
NOAA Fisheries law enforcement agents are investigating the crimes. A spokesperson told KIRO 7 he can't speculate why people may be shooting sea lions but said there's been a long history of competition for fish.
It is against federal law to kill a sea lion under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Those convicted can be subject to prison time and a $25,000 fine.
For law enforcement, harassment, and other violations, please call: 1-800-853-1964
To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, please call: 1-866-767-6114
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