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Sea lions shot dead in Washington state

Eight sea lions were found shot dead in Washington over the last few weeks, prompting investigations.

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Three four-month-old Steller sea lion pups lie next to a pool at the Vancouver Aquarium October 23, 2003 in Vancouver, Canada. The populations have dropped from 300,000 to 100,00 since 1980. (Photo by Don MacKinnon/Getty Images) (Don MacKinnon/AFP/Getty Images)

Eight sea lions were reportedly found shot dead in the Puget Sound region in Washington state in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press.

A local station, KING-TV, originally reported the incident, saying the bodies of seven sea lions were found on the Nisqually River. Another sea lion was found dead on Monday, on West Seattle’s Lincoln Park Beach.

According to the BBC, a conservation group called the Seal Sitters identified the eighth animal as a California sea lion, one of the species protected by the US Marine Mammal Protection Act. Another of the sea lions found on the Nisqually River was a Stellar sea lion, also part of a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are investigating the deaths, according to the AP.

The NOAA says that commercial fisherman view sea lions as a pest because they prey on salmon.

The WDFW website says California sea lions are not listed as a “depleted” population, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act “was amended in 1994 to provide a process for states to lethally remove individual California sea lions that threaten recovery of salmon and steelhead stocks listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/green/wildlife-news/120128/sea-lions-shot-dead-washington-state