Up to $20,000 reward for information about sea lion shootings

X-ray of a California sea lion found dead in West Seattle with shotgun pellets (circled in red) in its head. Photo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday they are offering a reward up to $20,000 for information that leads to conviction about California sea lion shootings.

More than 12 sea lions have been confirmed shot in and around Kitsap and King Counties since September, according to NOAA.

“We are concerned about a number of recent reports of marine mammal deaths caused by gunshots in the greater Seattle area. OLE investigates all reported unlawful takes of sea lions,” said Greg Busch in a press release, Assistant Director of the West Coast Division of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement.

Sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. If found guilty, killing a sea lion carries a penalty of up to $28,520 in civil fines per count, a year in prison, criminal fines and forfeiture of any vessels used in the crime.

The number of shootings confirmed so far this winter is substantially greater than other recent years, according to NOAA.

Anyone with information should call the case agent direct at 206-526-4300 or the 24/7 hotline for reporting marine resource violations at 1-800-853-1964. To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal, call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network: 1-866-767-6114.

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