NOAA Fisheries investigating sea lion deaths in West Seattle

November 2018

NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the apparent shooting of several California sea lions in the area of West Seattle since October, and reiterates that sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

“We are concerned about a number of recent reports of marine mammal deaths caused by gunshots in the greater Seattle area. All marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and OLE investigates all reported unlawful takes of sea lions,” said Greg Busch, Assistant Director, NOAA Fisheries, Office of Law Enforcement, West Coast Division.

To report a marine mammal violation, call 1-800-853-1964. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement provides live operator coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, call: 1-866-767-6114.

In recent years, there have been reports of sea lion shootings n fall and winter in Puget Sound, said Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA Fisheries Stranding Coordinator for the Northwest. California sea lions in and around Puget Sound now are almost all males that have come north from the Channel Islands off Southern California in search of more plentiful food.

The MMPA prohibits the harassment, hunting, capturing, or killing of marine mammals, or any attempt to do so. However, the law does contain exceptions authorizing certain people under certain circumstances to use 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.

For further details and frequently asked questions on deterrence methods, visit:

https://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/marine_mammals/deterring_qa.html