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May 18, 2015

$5,000 Reward Offered in Washington Sea Lion Shooting Death

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the death of a sea lion who was shot in the head on the Cowlitz River in Washington. The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Around April 25, concerned citizens alerted authorities to a stranded sea lion. The animal was unable to eat, drink or move off a sand bar on the Cowlitz River near Gerhart Gardens Park for several days. The sea lion suffered from a wounded eye and a probable broken jaw and was euthanized a few days later. The body was taken to Portland State University for a necropsy, which revealed the animal had been shot in the head. There have been other reports of dead sea lions floating down the river during the previous week.

Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS, said, “The immense suffering inflicted on this animal from such a pointless crime is unacceptable and a violation of federal law. We implore anyone with information to come forward and thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for seeking justice in this case.”

Harming a sea lion is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed. 

Anyone with information concerning the shootings is asked to call NOAA’s Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.


  • Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are poached annually.
  • It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.
  • Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
  • The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org


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