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Sea lion killings prompt NOAA Fisheries to offer reward for conviction of culprits

March 9, 2009 | 10:01 am

Sea lions seek warmth and togetherness atop a buoy beyond King Harbor in Redondo Beach.

The NOAA Fisheries Service is offering a reward of as much as $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for shooting sea lions.

Five California sea lions, all with bullet wounds, were recovered in February between Malibu and El Segundo. Three of the mammals died and another is in critical condition.

Killing or harassing marine mammals is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. If the culprit or culprits are nabbed, they face the prospect of heavy penalties or jail time or both.

Sea lion numbers have skyrocketed during the last several years, and the pinnipeds have become increasingly bold and bothersome to commercial and recreational fishermen.

But the last thing anyone needs, including image-conscious fishermen, is some loose cannon taking matters into his or her own hands.

Anyone with helpful information is urged to call (562) 980-4050 or (800) 853-1964. The latter number is a 24-hour NOAA hotline.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Sea lions seek warmth and togetherness atop a buoy beyond King Harbor in Redondo Beach. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

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