Harbour seal found on Vancouver beach with 23 shotgun pellets in face

The seal was seriously injured by birdshot, now in treatment at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

A young harbour seal found suffering from a gunshot wound to the face may lose complete eyesight in one of her eyes, according to veterinarians at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The pup, who is believed to be less than one year old, was found on Feb. 18 on Kitsilano beach in Vancouver. Officials at the centre said she was emaciated and lethargic, with 23 birdshot pellets embedded in her face. It’s believed she was shot weeks prior to being found.

Dr. Martin Haulena, the aquarium’s head veterinarian, said in a news release Tuesday the seal, who has been named Jessica Seal, is the fifth animal to be found badly injured by gunfire in recent years.

WATCH: Northern fur seal pup rescued near B.C. fish farm

READ MORE: Sea lion shot in face one year ago to live at Vancouver Aquarium

Last month, aquarium veterinarians travelled to Washington State to perform surgery on a pregnant seal shot in the head during a fishing derby.

On Friday, veterinary specialists took a thorough look at Jessica Seal’s injuries to determine how much vision she has left and to remove some of her damaged teeth. Birdshot pellets, usually used in shotguns, are made of either steel or lead inside a shell and scatter outwards when shot.

“We have no way of knowing who did this,” said Haulena. “I can tell you that she’s been suffering for several weeks, and we don’t know if she’s going to recover her eyesight enough to be released.”

Haulena said he’s concerned these types of injuries may become more common if a campaign by fishers to cull seals and sea lions gains ground. The Richmond-based Pacific Balance Pinniped Society has been pressing Fisheries and Oceans Canada to consider a managed Indigenous fishery for seals and sea lions.

READ MORE: West coast group campaigns for seal, sea lion harvest

WATCH: Giving the gifts of whale snot, prosthetic eyes and formula

“The person who did this would have known they wouldn’t kill her with birdshot. It was intended to hurt her, and it did,” Haulena said.

“The conflict on the water between humans and seals is not new — they want some of the same fish. I do worry people now feel more comfortable taking aim because they’ve been hearing seals are the bad guys, and they’re not.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Cullen demands action on Ecstall River

Failing to penalize parties involved undermines all salmon conservation efforts, MP says

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. residential school survivor’s indomitable human spirit centre of school play

Terrace theatre company plans to revive Nisga’a leader Larry Guno’s Bunk #7 next year

Most Read