San Diego is seeing a spike in wild sea lions with gunshot wounds, and one local group wants to put a stop to it.
On Monday, San Diego Animal Advocates (SDAA) announced a $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in a recent string of sea lion shootings.
In the past year, wildlife workers have discovered eight sea lions with gunshot wounds on San Diego County Beaches. All eight had to be euthanized, according to SDAA.
Six of those cases occurred within the last two months, SDAA said citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and SeaWorld.
Meantime, three other sea lions have been found impaled with fishing gaffs, poles used to spear fish and flip them back into a fishing boat. On Oct. 26, SeaWorld rescued a sea lion at La Jolla Cove who had a fishing gaff hook lodged in his shoulder.
The next day, a sea lion was found on the Quivira Basin bait barge in Mission Bay with fishing line wrapped tightly around her neck. Whether intentional or not, wildlife officials say seals and sea lions injured at the hands of humans is a major problem.
“Harming a sea lion is a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and can result in huge fines, criminal penalties and jail sentences,” SDAA President Jane Cartmill said in a news release.
The reward money comes from Sasha Fund, an account that funds rewards in animal abuse and theft cases, according to SDAA. The fund is named after a Cocker Spaniel who was stolen from a disabled woman.
Anyone with information can contact NOAA at 619-557-5494 or 800-853-1964.