A pregnant harbor seal near the San Juan Islands was shot in the head by a fisherman. It will soon return home after a successful rescue operation and surgery.
About a month ago near Sucia Island, fishermen out on the water noticed another fisherman firing a pellet gun at the head of a pregnant harbor seal. After taking a video of the incident, they called it in to the local sheriff’s department, who in turn sent deputies to aid the seal.
“When they got there, they observed the seal — it seemed to be kind of stunned and bobbing in the water,” San Juan County undersheriff Zac Reimer told KIRO Radio. “They were able to lasso a line around and get it on board our 26-foot craft.”
From there, the seal was transported safely to Friday Harbor, and then moved to the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Eventually, the seal was moved to PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood.
After surgery and weeks in recovery, the seal lost its left eye, but overall is expected to survive its reintroduction back into the wild.
The man law enforcement suspect of the crime was not arrested at the scene, but could face up to a year in prison and fines close to $30,000 for violating the 1972 Marine Wildlife Protection Act. The law-enforcement arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is currently running point on the investigation.
About 10 sea lions were shot and killed around Puget Sound in 2018, making for a troubling trend for local wildlife activists.
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