When the young sea lion from Guadalupe made the unusual decision to reach shore along a stretch of sheltered beach in northern California, there was probably one thing in the breeding mind.
“He was skinny so he was probably lost and looking for food ,” Jennifer Stock, spokeswoman for Point Reyes National Seashore, told SFGate.
But the puppy did not find sustenance. National Park Service officials said Monday that the creature’s small incursion into the vast stretch of coastline located about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco was interrupted when she was attacked and killed by a dog without a leash. past.
The seal, who was not one year old, died on the beach before rescuers could reach her , a veterinarian at the Center for Marine Mammals in the state of California, Emily Whitmer, told The Washington Post. Guadalupe seals are threatened and scientists estimate that at least 34,000 exist in nature.
“It’s very annoying,” Whitmer said. “For an endangered species, each individual matters.”
The attack occurred in an area of the beach where snowbirds are known to nest, another threatened species. To protect the birds, the place is now closed for dogs, said the Park Service. In addition, any pet that is brought to the seashore ” must be restrained at all times ” with straps of no more than six feet, in accordance with park rules. The photos on the beach show several prominent signs that inform people where pets are allowed and remind them to keep their animals tied.
On April 22, a dog owner decided not to listen.
Park officials said another visitor saw a dog without a leash attack the seal . The person called the Center for Marine Mammals, which rescues and cares for animals such as seals, sea lions and dolphins, but when help arrived, it was too late.
“A postmortem examination showed that the puppy seal had suffered multiple bite wounds to the chest , neck and head that caused severe traumas, including bleeding into the chest cavity and bleeding from the lungs ,” Whitmer told The Post.
On Monday, park officials said they were still looking for the dog owner who left the scene of the attack. The seals are protected by law in the United States and Mexico, according to the Center. More than 200 miles from the coast of Mexico, the only known breeding colony of the species is found on Guadalupe Island , which has been designated as a sanctuary.
“This is an incredible park where there is plenty of habitat for the animals to feed and rest,” Stock Stock told SFGate of Point Reyes National Seashore. “A dog without a leash is a real threat to wildlife and habitat.”
If a dog without a leash is in an area where its presence is prohibited and kills a species protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the person responsible for the canine could face fines and even jail sentences, Stock said.
Whitmer called the attack a “really unfortunate accident , ” but he advised people to use the incident as a learning moment.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of us, as human beings, to reflect on the opportunities we have to improve and make sure that we really enjoy the outdoor world and take care of other species that might be close to us,” he said.
On social media, news about the premature death of the sea lion left many angry.
“As the owner of a dog, I am often horrified by the arrogance of other dog owners,”commented one person on Facebook. “Mine will never bite anyone because I refuse to pretend that it never will, animals are never 100% reliable , especially in strange situations around creatures or strange people.” If I go to a national park, I get a dog sitter. It is not the place for them!