Residents speak out about man cutting skull out of dead sea lion

Raft man takes sea lion skull

Parksville residents who say they witnessed a man cut off the head of a dead sea lion to take its skull are speaking out.

This comes after a series of reports of decapitated seals and sea lions on Vancouver Island beaches, according to CTV News Vancouver Island.

Parksville resident Lorraine Young Olson was watching the man cut apart the sea lion for hours on June 18.

“I saw him take a big chunk of wood and ‘chop, chop, chop’ the whole time,” she told CTV.

Another resident, Ray Eely, says he witnessed the man work on the dead animal from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., after he used a rope to pull it to shore.

“He was using sticks to hack away at it,” says Eely. “Without any tools, he decided to start beating up on this thing for the better part of the day... he was trying to get the head off this thing with sticks and a board.”

Eely says the smell coming from the carcass was overpowering.

“Everybody smelled it, and he kept on hacking away and every now and then he would go into the water to clean himself because it was grotesque,” he told CTV.

Both residents then watched the man take the skull and paddle away towards the forest on a homemade raft.

“It was just sad,” says Eely.

CTV News then spoke with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who says it is not illegal to take a skull from a deceased marine mammal. However, it is illegal if you kill the animal first.

“It was dead prior, three or four days. It was bloated," says Eely.

Recently, there have been several other instances of headless marine mammals being discovered on shores between Nanaimo and Campbell River. It is not clear if this incident is related.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says that while some cases where humans are believed to be the cause of death for a marine mammal, a fisheries officer would attend the area to get more evidence however, “In these specific cases no further investigation was warranted."

“It was unbelievable. We had no idea why he was doing that," says Young Olson.

-With files from CTV News Vancouver Island

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