California wildlife authorities (as well as local police) are angry and dismayed over the number of sea lion corpses that have washed up along the Malibu shoreline, riddled with bullets.
“There have been more than usual animals stranding on the beaches the past couple of weeks. We are getting a greater number with bullet holes in them," stated Mike Remski, marine mammal rehabilitation manager at the California Wildlife Center. "For the ones that wash-up dead, necropsies are done and we try to retrieve the bullets to find a cause of death. If they're alive, they're sent immediately to the Marine Mammal Care Center at San Pedro."
Remski added that he discovered the most fatality on Big Rock Beach Oct. 11.
"That one washed up dead. It was an adult female sea lion.I took a look at it because a rescuer wasn't available and I took it down to the California Wildlife Center and it went to San Pedro MMCC ultimately. I happened to be there when they were doing the x-rays and it looked like a larger bullet, larger than a .22 and it went into the shoulder and most likely was the cause of death of the animal."
Sea lions are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, which Congress passed in 1972. Thus, not only is killing them inhumane, it is illegal, although fishermen are allowed to deter them away from their nets with highly-regulated, nonlethal deterrents, such as firecracker-like "seal bombs."
"We always get increased shootings of sea lions when there is fishing going on whether it's squid or other fishing offshore," Remski remarked. "We are very used to seeing animals with bullets in them especially during squid season, which began October 1."