Calif. fisherman arrested in sea lion shooting

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2009 6:58 PM

Authorities arrested a Sacramento fisherman Saturday in connection to shooting a sea lion in the head.

California game wardens said they arrested Larry Allen Legans, 43, on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, negligent discharge of a firearm, and take of a marine mammal. Legans told authorities he grew tired of competing with the protected animals so he fired his 12-gauge shotgun at the sea lion, injuring the creature.

"He said he was tired of watching sea lions take his fish," said Warden Patrick Foy.

About a half-dozen sea lions have started to spend time farther up the Sacramento River, competing with anglers for fish as far inland as Rio Vista, just southwest of Sacramento.

An injured sea lion was first spotted on a dock in Sacramento on Nov. 12 with a wound near its right eye. A witness told authorities Legans fired on the sea lion a day earlier when it surfaced in the river near Verona.

Authorities arrested Legans at his home Saturday morning after the witness reported the suspect's license plate number to them. They recovered a shotgun from Legans' home during the arrest.

Foy said Legans has since admitted to the shooting. He allegedly told a fisherman in another boat that he "may not want to watch this," before loading the shotgun.

The animal has not been spotted since Nov. 12, but officials expect it to survive because sea lions tend to have thick skulls. Sea lions are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

There was no telephone number listed for Legans.