Fisheries officers investigating the discovery of a bullet-riddled and decapitated sea lion earlier this week on a beach in Campbell River, B.C., are dealing with two similarly maimed sea lions found Friday.
"It's disturbing," Paul Cottrell, a Vancouver-based marine mammal coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said of the discoveries on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
"It's a concern when we're getting multiple deaths in a close area over the same period of time," he said Friday.
Earlier this week, the first Steller sea lion was found by a passerby, Mr. Cottrell said. He said the animal was found intact but shot, but later was decapitated.
He was wary about providing details about the two new cases, saying they were found in "similar situations" with "parts missing."
Mr. Cottrell would not say whether the two new sea lions were found by officers or passersby. He noted that it is illegal to harvest seals or sea lions without a licence and there are no active licences in the Campbell River area. He said an investigation is under way.
Mr. Cottrell said he did not know why the head of a sea lion would be of interest to someone.
Fisheries officials are hoping that witnesses will come forward to provide information that would help with the continuing investigation.