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Rescue in the works for B.C. sea lion with thick plastic band around its neck

VICTORIA — Members of British Columbia’s marine mammal network are mobilizing to help a sea lion with a plastic packing band wrapped tightly around its neck.

The creature was spotted last week in the Cowichan Bay area of southeastern Vancouver Island, where hundreds of sea lions have gathered to feed on spawning salmon.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada marine mammal co-ordinator Paul Cottrell says the team was notified several days ago and monitored the sea lion to ensure it will stay in the area.

A veterinarian with the Vancouver Aquarium has now been contacted and will work with fisheries officials to tranquilize the animal and cut off the band, possibly within the next week.

Cottrell says action is required because the band will not deteriorate and can become deeply embedded in the mammal’s neck, causing further injuries, infection and sometimes death.

Cottrell says the team will also travel to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve off Esquimalt, where there have been other reports of sea lions with similar bands around their necks.

“It takes quite an effort to get all these experts and teams together to go out and do this,” said Cottrell.

He said they receive a lot of reports about entangled sea life every year, adding that they’re grateful for the Vancouver Aquarium’s assistance in helping the animals. (CFAX)

The Canadian Press