NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the December 2020 shooting death of a California sea lion. The sea lion, which is protected under federal law, was killed near Pittsburg, California.
The sea lion was reported dead by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in New York Slough, an area within Suisun Bay. The animal was shot in the head while resting on a navigational buoy. The bullet found in the sea lion’s head is awaiting forensic analysis.
California sea lions, as well as other marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The MMPA prohibits the harassment, hunting, capturing, or killing of any marine mammal or the attempt to do so. It carries civil penalties of up to $30,107 per count, a year in prison, criminal fines, and forfeiture of vessels of vehicles involved.
California sea lions are native to the West Coast of North America where they live in coastal waters and on beaches, docks, buoys, and jetties. Their population has been increasing since 1975, after protections were put in place under the MMPA.
“We’re asking for help from anyone who may have seen or heard about anything related to this incident,” said Radford Dew, Special Agent with the Office of Law Enforcement.
Anyone with information should contact the investigating agent directly at (707) 210-7688 or through NOAA’s Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal, call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (866) 767-6114.