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Dead Sea Lions With Gunshot Wounds Found On Malibu Shores

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(Photo by Robert Crow via Shutterstock)
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What kind of person shoots a .22 caliber bullet into unassuming sea lions? That's what federal authorities are trying to figure out.

At least two sea lions washed up along the shores of Malibu Beach earlier this month with gunshot wounds, and two others were found at Point Dume and near Zuma Beach in August, according to NBC Los Angeles.

“These were definitely gunshots," Donna Collins with the California State Parks told The Malibu Times. "And it had happened several times. I contacted the Coast Guard… They said they’d had several complaints about it as well. They said they were going to do their own investigation. We never heard anything about that particular incident.”

Jonsie Ross of the California Wildlife Center noted that there is a pattern of sea lion shootings every October when squid fishing season hits—and Malibu Beach is a popular hub for that, reported CBS Los Angeles. Fisherman need to use lights to attract squids to the surface of the water, and in effect also attract sea lions that hover around the boats to hunt. It's not illegal for seamen to scare the sea animals away with nonlethal acts such as a firecracker-like bombs; however, they do break the law when they shoot them, as stated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Fines of up to $10,000 and a year in jail could ensue if caught.

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Though, it's not very easy to find suspects. "You almost have to see it for a prosecution to be made," David Reilly of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told NBC Los Angeles.

We leave you with this video of a sea lion pup learning to swim. It's just inhumane to shoot this adorable animal.