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Reward offered for information about SoCal sea lion shootings

February 17, 2009 |  4:04 pm

A 9-month-old sea lion pup was found shot.  A marine mammal rescue group is offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of the shooter or shooters At least four sea lions have been found with bullet wounds on L.A. County beaches since the year began, according to Peter Wallerstein, the founding director of Marine Animal Rescue. 

While at least one of the injured sea lions survived, the little fellow at right, a 9-month-old pup found Feb. 3 at Dockweiler Beach in Santa Monica Bay, was not so lucky.  Our colleague Alexandra Zavis at the L.A. Now blog has the details:

"When we arrived on scene we saw this little 30-pound, 9-month-old sea lion pup lying on the beach," Wallerstein said. At first glance, the animal appeared healthy. "Then he started dragging his back end like he couldn't move it," he said. "I was hoping it wasn't what I thought it was."

A radiograph confirmed that a bullet had severed the pup's spine and he had to be euthanized, Wallerstein said.

Marine Animal Rescue is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible. Wallerstein said that fishermen will sometimes injure or kill sea lions to keep them away from the fish, but that it was unusual to have so many shootings in such a short period of time.

Without more evidence, he said authorities with the National Marine Fisheries Service do not have the resources to hunt down those responsible, but he hoped that the reward would be an incentive for witnesses to come forward.

Anyone with information on the shootings was asked to call Marine Animal Rescue's 24-hour hot line at 1-800-39-WHALE.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Peter Wallerstein / Marine Animal Rescue

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