Courts & Crime

Sea lion allegedly shot by fisherman may not survive

The sea lion allegedly shot by a fisherman in the Sacramento River is in critical condition after being rescued Saturday and might not survive.

Experts and volunteers from the Marine Mammal Center rescued the animal from a floating dock in Knights Landing on Saturday, then transported it to their treatment center in Sausalito. Initially rated in "fair" condition, the sea lion has since been downgraded to "critical" status.

The problem is severe nasal damage from "an injury consistent with that of a gunshot wound," the center reports. This damage might prevent the sea lion from diving, spokesman Jim Oswald said, which might mean it is unable to feed itself. The adult male sea lion weighed 358 pounds when it arrived at the center, and appeared emaciated and severely lethargic.

Veterinarians at the center recovered metal from the wound, but Oswald could not provide further detail on that. The center plans to try injecting the sea lion with steroids later today to see if that helps revive its immune system.

"It's very likely this animal may not survive," Oswald said. "We hope he pulls through."

State Fish and Game wardens arrested a North Highlands man Nov. 21 on three charges related to the shooting. The suspect allegedly admitted he shot the sea lion from his boat near Verona because he was tired of sea lions eating his fish.