Shoot a Sea Lion, Go To Jail

Sunday, Nov 22, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM PDT
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Shoot a Sea Lion, Go To Jail

NBC Bay Area

Experts say the increased number is reason for concern.

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California Department of Fish and Game officials said a 43-year-old man has been arrested in connection to shooting a sea lion in the head.

Larry Legans, 43, faces misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and negligent discharge of a firearm after a fisherman spotted him shooting a sea lion in the Sacramento River near Verona, officials said.

"It was just sad to hear somebody would do something like that," said concerned resident Tucker Zane.

A witness spotted Legans in the act and was able to note his trailer license plate number that authorities later used to identify him, they said.

Fish and Game wardens said it's no secret that some fisherman hate sea lions because they eat the salmon right from their hooks.

Authorities said they used a high-risk approach when executing a search warrant Saturday morning because Legans has a previous criminal past, though they would not elaborate. Fish and Game officials said they recovered the alleged rifle used during shooting in that search at 34th and I streets in North Highlands.

"Well you never know going into a house like that, a subject with firearms. We want everybody in the house to be safe and we want to be safe," said warden Steven Stiehr.

The seal was last spotted Nov. 11 and has not been seen since. Officials said they believe the animal will survive despite being shot in the skull since sea lions tend to have thick skulls and heal quickly.

Fish and Game officials also said it doesn't make sense that shooting an animal is only considered a misdemeanor crime.

"Some people believe that environmental crimes such as this are not that big of a deal," said Stiehr.

"I think the law needs to be changed then," said Zane.

Legans is in custody at the Sacramento County Jail. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the maximum time Legrans faces is six months in jail.

A National Geographic crew followed Fish and Game officials Saturday and plans to show the arrest on a documentary slated to air in March.

This article originally appeared on KCRA.com.

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