The following press release is courtesy of NOAA Fisheries Alaska:
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the May 2023 shooting of seven Steller sea lions. The Steller sea lions, which are protected under federal law, were killed near Cordova, Alaska in the Copper River Delta.
“We’re asking for help from anyone who may have seen or heard anything related to the killing of these endangered animals,” said Nathan Lagerwey, Assistant Director with NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, Alaska Division.
Anyone with information should contact the investigating agent directly at (907) 250-5188 or through NOAA’s Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal, call the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (877) 925-7773.
The sea lions were first discovered on May 16, 2023, shortly after the fishery opened, by members of NOAA’s Protected Resources Division. In coordination with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, it was determined that the sea lions appeared to be shot—with no evidence of any attempt to harvest or salvage them.
The western population of Steller sea lions is protected under the Endangered Species Act which prohibits harassing, harming, or killing listed species, with very limited exceptions. Killing marine mammals is also a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.