Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Officials investigating shot seal

 

September 21, 2017

A seal was found shot earlier this month on a Mud Bay beach. Photo courtesy of Paul Gaither.

A harbor seal was found shot on a Mud Bay beach, 2.5 miles north of Letnikof Boat Harbor at McClellan Flats early this month. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is conducting an investigation into the incident.

NOAA Public Affairs Officer Allyson Rogers said the seal was shot between Sept. 4 and Sept. 11. Harbor seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits the taking of marine mammals. NOAA also has authority to protect marine animals and habitat under 29 other federal statutes, according to its website.

Native tribes and researchers are allowed under certain permits to take harbor seals for subsistence, preservation of culture, scientific research or caring for a nuisance animal.

Robert Marvelle, supervisory enforcement officer at the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, said punishment for the taking of a marine mammal varies widely based on circumstance, but could result in fines of $25,000 or more.

"If it gets to the point where we charge on this, it would have to go to the lawyers and they would assess the fine," Marvelle said. "For this instance, we're not sure where it was shot and killed. It could have been on water or land."

Marvelle said NOAA gets involved in reports of shot seals or sea lions a couple times a year.

"It happens, and it probably happens more than we're aware," Marvelle said. "A lot of times it's a sea lion that is getting harassed or hazed away from a fisherman's fish. This could be a simple one, too, where a tribal hunter was hunting and couldn't recover the animal."

Marvelle said he would like to encourage people to report any violations, and to call or visit NOAA's website with any questions about what they can and can't do with regard to marine mammals.

Call 1-800-853-1964 with any information about the recent harbor seal shooting incident to aid in the agency's investigation.

 
 

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