Sea Lion Attack Violates Federal Law


By now we are all very familiar with the recent story of the dog that attacked and killed a sea lion in our town.

Let’s just keep it at that: ‘a‘ dog and ‘attacked and killed’.  Let’s forget whose dog it is and focus on what has happened and what we can do to set an example that this behavior cannot be tolerated.

On the Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s website, you can read the following: “Marine mammals are protected by Federal Law and it is unlawful for unauthorized persons to handle them.”

What is this federal law?

“The Marine Mammal Protection Act(MMPA) was passed on October 21, 1972. All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA. The MMPA prohibits any people to take, touch, harm or harass marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.

The MMPA states that if you come across a beached marine mammal, you must stay a minimum of 100 feet away from the animal.”  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/mmpa/

A federal law has indeed been broken.

Ok, but the dog escaped and it’s not the owner’s fault right?  Let’s just suppose the owner and dog was 100 feet away.  Is the owner still responsible?

You better believe it.  Read the following from a popular Law Resource Website (Nolo.comhttp://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/dog-book/chapter12-3.html):

“A California man whose chained dog mauled to death a two-year-old in 1987 was charged with murder. He was convicted of a lesser charge, involuntary manslaughter, and sentenced to three years in prison. (“Pit Bull Owner Handed Three-Year Prison Term,” San Francisco Recorder, Feb. 20, 1990.)” and “A California woman who ordered her Doberman pinscher to attack someone was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. (People v. Nealis, 232 Cal. App. 3d Supp. 1, 283 Cal. Rptr. 376 (1991).)”

Clearly a law was broken, in a Marine Protected Area, and no-one is willing to do anything about it?  What if this happens again?  What if this happened all the time?  How long would we take our beloved and protected wildlife being attacked and killed by irresponsible people?


Christian Macke, Laguna Beach

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  1. curt

    Well unless your a officer of the court or a lawyer you do not know a law was broken. I understand you want it to be a crime but sometimes bad things just happen. The animal was already injured prior to the incident taking place. Maybe we should arrest every shark that eats a seal or fish in the protected area. The dog was allowed on the beach, the owner was following the rules. What do you think the solution is. You do not know what your talking about.How about you let the people who do this for a living do there job. leave your emotions at your house. News flash,bad things happen, it is not always someones fault. You cannot make everything against the law. And just because you do not agree with something or someone, does not make it a crime.

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