Sea lion found shot in the head at Kits Beach in Vancouver

A female sea lion found shot in the face at one of Vancouver’s most popular beaches is in poor condition, according to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The sea lion was brought to the Rescue Centre for examination after getting calls from the public that a lone sea lion appeared to be in distress.

After arriving at the scene at Kits Beach, the rescue centre workers discovered the female juvenile, around two to three years old, was shot in the head by a large calibre full-jacketed bullet.

The sea lion was found near the Kitsilano Yacht Club.

Veterinarians believe the sea lion had been suffering for at least a few days before she was discovered.

“She is under constant watch right now,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian and director of animal health at the aquarium. 

“She did survive overnight, which is a good sign. But she remains very, very weak, very poorly responsive. So I’m very concerned about her.”

Haulena says the sea lion has lost one eye to the gunshot wound, with another severely damaged.

He says it is unlikely it would survive if it were released into the wild, given its lack of vision.

“The aquarium has been very gracious in offering homes for a lot of these animals that are blind,” he said. “We have, unfortunately, several animals that are blind after being gunshot that live at the aquarium now and are happy.”

“Our goal is always to try and release the animals … certainly, animals that survive are doing very well. But it’s a very long-term process for these animals.”

Sea lions are “of special concern” in B.C., which means they are not yet endangered but are threatened by habitat loss and human activity. 

Haulena says their populations are recovering following regulations, but they are still a concern for conservationists.

It is illegal under the federal Fisheries Act to shoot marine animals without a rarely-granted permit, with Haulena saying there could be “hefty” fines for anyone who does so illegally.

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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