Another headless Stellar sea lion has washed up on the Campbell River shore.
The body of the large sea lion was found about two weeks ago at Shelter Point, located just south of the city. Another headless sea lion, found in November, continues to rot on the Tyee Spit.
“We’re very concerned – we want to find out who’s doing this and put a stop to it,” said Paul Conttrell of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Conttrell, the marine mammal co-ordinator for Pacific region, said it’s disturbing for everyone to see the headless corpses.
The sea lion on the Tyee Spit was shot and it’s likely the same happened to the sea lion found at Shelter Point.
The latest find is also troubling because it suggests the culprit continues to kill and decapitate the mammals.
When the first sea lion was found in late November, it was one of three dead Stellars found in Campbell River and Comox over a week’s time.
According to Conttrell, two were decapitated and the third had half its head and was partially skinned. A headless harbour seal was also found in Barkley Sound the same week.
“It’s not easy,” he said, referring to the effort it would take to decapitate a sea lion which can grow more than 10 feet long and weigh more than a ton. “It would be a messy job.”
To the non-expert eye, it appears the heads were cleanly, and similarly, severed on the two sea lions currently decomposing on the local beaches.
But that’s unconfirmed and there’s still not much known. Conttrell said Fisheries officers have recovered some bullet fragments, but there’s not a lot of hard evidence.
The other difficulty is trying to find out when and where they were killed. Conttrell said the animals decompose slower when they’re in the water, compared to on land, which makes time of death almost impossible to narrow down.
Conttrell is calling on the public to assist in the investigation. If you see a dead or injured marine mammal, call the reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336.
“It is illegal to shoot a sea lion or sea without a licence,” he said.