White Rock resident Lee Lewis has called on White Rock RCMP and Fisheries and Oceans Canada after, days apart, finding two seal carcasses on the beach half a kilometre west of the West Beach picnic area.
Lewis said the dead leopard seals, apparently a mother and pup, had evidently received multiple gunshot wounds somewhere in the water and washed up on shore.
“I don’t think they could have been shot that far out on the water, or they would have gone to the bottom,” he said. “They were both in fairly decent condition, and the gulls hadn’t been at them – but I’m not a forensics expert.”
Lewis said his early-morning walk on the beach last Thursday was marred by the discovery of “a scene out of a horror movie.” He said the corpse of an adult seal he found on the shore bore what seemed to him to be multiple bullet wounds.
“I immediately contacted Fisheries and Oceans to report this tragic scene of death and destruction at the hands of some disturbed individual,” he told Peace Arch News in an email Sunday.
On a walk later that morning, he found the pup, also bearing what he took to be bullet wounds, a short distance from where the adult had washed up, lodged under a tree trunk.
Concerned by the potential dangers, he contacted White Rock RCMP, who told him Fisheries and Oceans, after investigating the initial report, had already contacted them.
White Rock RCMP spokespeople could not be reached for comment by PAN press time Monday; a Fisheries and Oceans communications advisor said she would investigate.
As well as being disturbed by what he called a “senseless” killing of wildlife, Lewis said he is concerned that someone firing a rifle that close to shore runs the risk of taking a human life as well.
“It’s just crazy,” he said. “Bullets can ricochet – skip off the water. I’m not sure how anyone could be that reckless and stupid – there could be kids and families nearby.”
Lewis, who has worked on commercial fishing boats, theorized the seals might have been targeted by commercial fishermen. It is not unknown for fishermen to shoot at seals interfering with their catch, he said, noting “sport fishermen seldom carry high-powered weapons on board their vessels.”
Lewis said he hopes to raise awareness of the public to the incidents.
“Maybe somebody will see something on a boat,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll report it and stop whoever it is doing this crap.”