A NOAA Fisheries marine mammal specialist examines a dead Steller sea lion pup found on a beach in the Copper River Delta. Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is asking the public for help in putting a stop to the illegal killing of endangered Steller sea lions, multiple numbers of whom have been found during aerial surveys in the Copper River Delta.  

“Like us, these animals were just trying to eat to survive, but instead were killed in their prime,” NOAA Fisheries said in a statement issued July 26.  

“Some of these dead Steller sea lions were young and likely learning to feed on their own for the first time,” the statement said. “Please help us stop this illegal killing.” 

Anyone who observes or otherwise knows of such killings is asked to report them to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, by calling the investigating agent directly at 907-250-5188 or through the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964.     

Dead, injured or stranded marine mammals should be reported to the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 877-925-7773. Information to give includes the date, location of stranding, number of animals, condition of the animal(s), and species. 

The agency is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the killing of endangered Steller sea lions in the Copper River Delta region near Cordova. 


The western population of Steller sea lions is protected under the Endangered Species Act, which is legislation that prohibits harassing, harming, or killing listed species.   

Killing marine mammals is also a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement also advises that shooting seals and sea lions is against the law except for Alaska Native subsistence harvests for food or handicraft. Protect these seals and sea lions and with that the good name of Alaska’s commercial fisheries by not illegally shooting seals and sea lions enforcement, officials said. 

Sadie Wright, assistant stranding program coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, uses a metal detector to examine a dead Steller sea lion found on a beach in the Copper River Delta. Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries