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Man decapitated sea lion near Parksville to take skull, rowed away on homemade raft: witnesses
VICTORIA -- Warning: Details in this story may be disturbing to some.
People in Parksville are speaking out after watching a disturbing incident on a beach outside their home, where they say a man cut apart a dead sea lion and took the skull.
It's the latest in a series of reported sightings of decapitated sea lions and seals on Vancouver Island beaches.
Lorraine Young Olson was at her house in Parksville on June 18 when she watched as the man cut apart the animal for hours.
“I saw him take a big chunk of wood and ‘chop, chop, chop’ the whole time,” said Young Olson.
Neighbour Ray Eely said he watched the man work on the sea lion, which appeared to have been dead for some time, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. after he pulled it onto the shore with a rope.
“He was using sticks to hack away at it,” said Eely. “Without any tools, he decided to start beating up on this thing for the better part of the day... he was trying to get the head off this thing with sticks and a board.”
Eely said the smell from the dead animal was overpowering.
“Everybody smelled it, and he kept on hacking away and every now and then he would go into the water to clean himself because it was grotesque,” he said.
Both Young Olson and Eely watched the man paddle away with the skull on a homemade raft towards a forested area.
“It was just sad,” said Eely.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada tells CTV News that it is not illegal to take the skull from a dead marine mammal, but it is illegal if you kill the animal first.
“It was dead prior, three or four days," said Eely. "It was bloated."
It is not clear if this incident is related to the other headless seals and sea lions
Several headless sea lions and seals have been found on shores between Nanaimo and Campbell River recently.
A spokesperson with Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in some cases where human interaction is deemed to be the cause of death, a fisheries officer will attend the site to gather more evidence.
“In these specific cases no further investigation was warranted,” said the spokesperson.
RCMP in Nanaimo and Parksville said this type of incident would be handed over to the fisheries department and they would assist in any way they could.
“It was unbelievable," said Young Olson. "We had no idea why he was doing that.”
Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity with marine mammals is being asked to contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada immediately at 1-800-465-4336.