A sea lion washed ashore near Kye Bay last week missing part of its head is one of many cases of mutilated sea lions and harbour seals being found on beaches around Vancouver Island.
Steve Newmann saw the sea lion early last week near the boat launch, and could tell something had happened to its head.
“It just seemed too weird,” he said.
Newmann said he alerted the appropriate authorities and was told the sea lion could have been poached.
Last week, a similar situation occurred on the shorelines in Campbell River with gunshot wounds, and Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries (DFO) and Oceans said the increase in incidents are unusual.
“We do get every year a number of animals that do have body parts missing but it’s unusual to have a cluster of deaths so close together in the same period and the same issues,” he told media.
Cottrell added as far as their records indicate, DFO has not seen a cluster of deaths like the dismembered sea lions and seals.
“We’re obviously looking at all the details around each individual incident and looking at all of the incidents together and trying to piece similarities and similar issues and trying to see if they are related … and also looking at where these parts may be ending up.”
He noted it is disturbing to see animals shot and parts taken off of them, and added it is illegal to shoot marine animals without a licence under the Fisheries Act.
To report any information which may help fisheries officers or the location of a sea lion or harbour seal which has been mutilated or shot, call 1-800-465-4336.