UPDATE: Two more sea lions found shot in head, bringing number to 18 dead since September

Authorities in Washington have confirmed that two more sea lions were found dead in Puget Sound last week—bringing the number of sea lions found dead in the area since September up to 18.

KIRO reported that 12 of the 18 sea lions found dead in King and Kitsap counties were shot. Casey Mclean, from SR3, a local nonprofit aimed at protecting marine wildlife, said the latest two sea lions found in West Seattle were likely killed around the same time as their carcasses had undergone significant decomposition.

“These were all robust body-condition males that did have full stomachs,” Mclean offered, competition over a declining salmon population has led some to take matters into their own hands.

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Someone who wished to only be identified as “Bruce” told KIRO that he witnessed fishermen on Alki shooting at the sea mammal in November. Previously, Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network told The Seattle Times that two of the slain sea lions were decapitated.

In a statement issued to NBC News late last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In a blog post published last week, Sea Sitters indicated it’s difficult to ascertain how many sea lions have suffered the same fate as the tide can pull carcasses away from shore before a necropsy can be performed.

The Seattle chapter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is reportedly offering a $10,000 to anyone with information that leads to a conviction or convictions in this case. The organization is also offering $2,000 to anyone who produces video evidence.

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[Featured Image: KIRO video screengrab]