Dead seals in Whatcom County were shot in the head

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on September 17, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 17 at 7:20 PM

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. - The sudden death of several Seals in Whatcom County have caught the eye of local wildlife officials.

Eleven dead seals washed ashore over the Labor Day weekend. Investigators say at least three appeared to have been shot in the head. 

Mariann Carrasco, lead investigator for the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network says seven other seals appeared to also have been shot, but that has not yet been determined.

"It's alarming," says Carrasco. "We usually see a few seals shot every year, but not numbers like this."

Eight of the dead seals were found on the beaches of Point Roberts.  Three were discovered on the Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine and one seal pup, whose head had been removed, was also found near Lummi Island. Carrasco says one possible reason for a spike in seal deaths could be the larger than normal sockeye salmon returns in the waters around Blaine and Point Roberts.

"The seals will often cause problems for fisherman and steal their catch, but it is illegal for anyone to shoot the Seals," explains Carrasco. 

Wildlife officials say fishermen are supposed to rely on non-lethal methods to chase away seals from their nets or boats. To report any dead or stranded Marine Mammal in Whatcom County, you are asked to call (360) 966-8845.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has posted a list of non-lethal deterrence methods for Seals on their website at
http://www.swr.noaa.gov/deter/Dets_Fisher.htm.
 

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