Seattle, Washington – You have 20,000 new reasons to help catch a sea lion killer near Seattle. Michael Milstein with NOAA Fisheries says they are now offering up to $20,000 dollars as a new reward for information that leads to an arrest. Milstein says they are relying on your tips to potentially crack this case near West Seattle. 12 sea lions have been shot there since September. There’s a lot of people in the area, maybe someone saw something.
Sea lions are federally protected. As a side note, this is not connected to the sea lions being killed by Oregon state officials in order to protect endangered fish. ODFW has permission from the Feds to remove a limited number of sea lions on the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
Read more from NOAA Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the shootings of California sea lions in and around West Seattle.
More than 12 sea lions have been confirmed shot in Washington’s King and Kitsap counties since September.
Sea lions and other marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which carries civil penalties of up to $28,520 per count, a year in prison, criminal fines, and forfeiture of any vessel involved.
“We are concerned about a number of recent reports of marine mammal deaths caused by gunshots in the greater Seattle area. OLE investigates all reported unlawful takes of sea lions,” said Greg Busch, Assistant Director of the West Coast Division of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement.
Anyone with information should call the case agent direct at 206-526-4300 or the 24/7 hotline for reporting marine resource violations at 1-800-853-1964. To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal, call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network: 1-866-767-6114.
Sea lion shootings have become a regular occurrence in the Pacific Northwest during fall and winter, when male sea lions travel north from their rookeries in the Channel Islands in Southern California to feed. The number of shootings confirmed so far this winter is substantially greater than other recent years.
The MMPA prohibits harassment, hunting, capturing, or killing of marine mammals. However, the law contains exceptions allowing non-lethal methods to deter marine mammals from damaging private property, including fishing gear and catch, so long as it does not result in the death or serious injury of an animal.
NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement:
Deterring “nuisance” pinnipeds: