A Steller sea lion is seen beached near the Nippon paper mill in Port Angeles earlier this month. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State and federal officials euthanize Steller sea lion beached in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — State and federal officials have euthanized a suffering Steller sea lion that was beached at the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill near Ediz Hook since at least Jan. 6.

It was a joint decision between the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network, said Melissa Williams, executive director for Feiro Marine Life Center.

“It was clear it had just gone downhill and would continue to go downhill until it died,” Williams said.

By Saturday, when it was euthanized, the animal couldn’t lift its head and was hardly opening its eyes, she said.

An aquatic animal veterinarian and a DFW biologist determined the sea lion to be beyond recovery and chose to end its suffering, Williams said.

A necropsy was conducted on site to determine the sea lion’s health issue, but what exactly was wrong isn’t clear, she said.

All officials know is that it was an adult male older than 15 years old.

A Steller sea lion’s lifespan is typically about 20 years, she said.

It’s fairly uncommon for a sea lion to go that far into the harbor, Williams said. They are most frequently seen by the Coast Guard base at the end of Ediz Hook.

She said because of the animal’s size — estimated at more than 1,000 pounds — and its temperament, it would have been difficult to treat.

What doesn’t help is there are no facilities nearby that would have been able to treat it, Williams said.

“It’s not like a dog, a cat or a cow that’s domesticated,” she said. “It’s not the same process.”

She said for other animals it can be easy to find a facility, such as a zoo or aquarium, that can help.

But for the Steller sea lion, there was no such luck, she said.

“There is just not a good solution that is going to make everyone happy,” she said.

She is still urging people to stay away from the beach. There is still a health risk, especially to pets, Williams said.

“We’re looking at making sure the health risk is diminished,” she said. “We anticipate later this week we’ll have an all clear.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Young women shine in Peninsula-wide music competition

With a little-known piece from a female composer, Lauren… Continue reading

NEWS BRIEFS: Scholarship applications available … and other items

The Peninsula College Foundation announced that it has nearly… Continue reading

Port Townsend lodging tax funds allocated; lack of application process questioned

The Port Townsend City Council unanimously approved $557,338 in… Continue reading

Inaugural awards program honors six in Port Angeles

Marsha Robin, who has been described as a volunteer… Continue reading

EYE ON CLALLAM: Commissioners to hear about OPNET

Clallam County commissioners will hear a briefing on the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics… Continue reading

EYE ON JEFFERSON: West Uncas Road temporary closure, work before county panel

The three Jefferson County commissioners will discuss closing a portion of West… Continue reading

Three young women named candidates for Clallam County Fair royal court

Three young women have been announced as royalty candidates… Continue reading

Alaska hit by 7.9 earthquake; tsunami warning canceled

By Mark Thiessen and Becky Bohrer The Associated Press ANCHORAGE, Alaska —… Continue reading

Two applicants for acting Clallam treasurer sent to commissioners

The names of two applicants for the acting Clallam… Continue reading

Most Read