NOAA offers $20,000 reward in sea lion shootings case

SEATTLE—The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through its Office of Law Enforcement, has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the case involving shootings of sea lions in the West Seattle area.

NOAA officials stated 12 sea lions were shot in the Seattle metropolitan area since September 2018; an X-ray of one of the shot sea lions was shared on NOAA’s West Coast Fisheries webpage.

Punishment for harming sea lions, which are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, or MMPA, can include any combination of the following: $28,520 (per count) in civil penalties, one year in prison, criminal fines and forfeiture of vessel (if involved in the violation of the MMPA).

“Sea lion shootings have become a regular occurrence in the Pacific Northwest during fall and winter, when male sea lions travel north from their rookeries in the Channel Islands in Southern California to feed. The number of shootings confirmed so far this winter is substantially greater than other recent years,” NOAA staff stated.

“The MMPA prohibits harassment, hunting, capturing, or killing of marine mammals,” NOAA staff continued. “However, the law contains exceptions allowing non-lethal methods to deter marine mammals from damaging private property, including fishing gear and catch, so long as it does not result in the death or serious injury of an animal.”

Anyone with information on the Seattle area sea lion shootings can contact the case agent directly at 206-526-4300 or the 24/7 hotline for reporting marine resource violations at 800-853-1964.

Report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal to the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network by calling 866-767-6114.

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