A plea to find those responsible for a rash of sea lion shootings in San Diego has drawn national support.
The Humane Society of the United States along with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for shooting eight sea lions over the past year.
San Diego Animal Advocates (SDAA) has already put up a $2,000 reward, so the full reward for an arrest is now $7,000.
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 has said.
In the 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.
“These intelligent, social creatures experienced immense suffering from such senseless shootings,” Scott Beckstead, the Humane Society of the United States’s western regional director, said in a news release. “We are grateful for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)’s work to investigate these heinous crimes.”
Harming a sea lion is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by up to a $100,000 fine and one year of incarceration.
Anyone with information about the shootings should call NOAA Special Agent Michelle Zetwo at 619-557-5494 or the NOAA hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Tips may be anonymous.