SEATTLE (AP) — Federal officials are investigating after at least two California sea lions that washed ashore near Seattle were killed by gunshot wounds.
KING-TV reports nearly a half-dozen dead sea lions have washed ashore in west Seattle over the last six weeks.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it is investigating the deaths.
A sea lion found Wednesday had wounds considered suspicious, but a necropsy had not yet been conducted to determine the cause of death.
Sea lions are federally protected. A person convicted of killing a sea lion faces up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine.
According to the U.S. government, more than 700 California sea lions are estimated to have been killed in the last two decades.