NOAA Fisheries Offer Reward for Shooting of Sea Lion

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is offering a reward for information regarding an adult female California Sea Lion found Nov. 6 in Moro Bay, Calif. shot in the neck with a crossbow arrow. NOAA Fisheries enforcement officers are seeking information about the shooting incident, which is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and will pay $1,000 for information that leads to a prosecution and conviction in this case. “It is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harass or feed marine mammals in the wild,” said Special Agent Roy Torres, NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement - Southwest Division. “The person who committed this act can face a civil penalty of up to $12,000 or a criminal fine of up to $20,000 and jail time.” Initially the sea lion was observed on docks located near the Great American Fish Company restaurant. When rescuers from Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif. tried to capture the animal it swam to another dock near Giovanni=s Fish Market. Exhausted from emaciation the animal was unable to flee the rescuers and finally caught. The sea lion had a 16 in. crossbow arrow shot through its neck area. Crossbow dealers were canvassed by NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) special agents in San Luis Obispo county and according a crossbow hunting expert, the crossbow arrow was most likely shot with a shoulder-fired crossbow. The most likely weapon is a Barnett Ranger crossbow. The animal survived surgery to remove the bolt and is being rehabilitated at the Marine Mammal Center. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) protects seals, sea lions and all species of marine mammals. Under the MMPA it is illegal to harass or feed marine mammals in the wild. If people find a seal or other marine mammal entangled, struck by a vehicle or boat, or otherwise visibly injured, NOAA Fisheries requests that they contact the toll-free Office for Law Enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964
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