Activists call for investigation after another headless sea mammal found near Nanaimo
VICTORIA -- Animal activists are demanding an investigation and calling for necropsies after multiple headless sea mammals have been found near Nanaimo. The most recent case was discovered on Monday.
Deborah Short was out for a walk at Neck Point Park when she found the first carcass of a sea lion in April.
“I was just sick to my stomach. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Short. “It became very clear that it was missing its head... it was just horrible.”
She then found multiple headless sea lions, including some near Campbell River. In total, she has discovered five headless marine mammals since the spring.
“I was just in disbelief,” she said.
On Monday, Short discovered another carcass at Neck Point Park that she believes is a seal.
Short says she has reached out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) with photographs of the headless sea lions and also contacted an animal activist group to report her findings.
Anna Hall, a marine mammal zoologist, says the photos of the dead animals suggest a pattern in their injuries and believes their deaths are deliberate.
“It is absolutely disgusting that anybody would be intentionally killing these animals and then cutting their heads off," Hall said. "To me, there is a clear message that obviously there is some perhaps hatred towards the sea lions on the B.C. coast."
CTV News reached out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to see if they’re investigating the carcasses. A spokesperson tells CTV News that the organization is monitoring the situation.
“DFO has seen a slight increase in reports of dead sea lions washing up on the shores of Vancouver Island,” said the spokesperson Monday.
“From time to time, individuals may tamper with the animals once beached. If this is determined to have been done in an effort to knowingly tamper with evidence, this would be an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada.”
The DFO says it is aware social media reports and is monitoring closely, but wouldn’t elaborate on what the reports are.
“If nothing is being done about it, it really creates this sense that our marine life isn’t valuable,” said Jordan Reichert, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada.
Short said there are still many questions left unanswered, including who is doing this.
“Is it poaching? Is it anger? It is hard to say at this point,” said Short.
CTV News asked the DFO if it plans to conduct necropsies, but did not receive a response.
“To me, this looks intentional,” said Hall. “Whether it was by a single person or a group of people I sincerely hope Fisheries and Oceans Canada pursues this case to determine who is doing this and to bring them to justice.”
After looking at the images, Hall says some of the headless animals are species at risk.
“Steller sea lions are classified as special concerns because there are some very serious conservation risks for these particular species,” she said.
“Therefore, we now have someone who has potentially killed and certainly decapitated one of our species at risk.”
CTV News is looking to speak with anyone who may have come across a similar incident. Anyone with information can contact CTV News Vancouver Island at firstname.lastname@example.org.