British Columbia

Sea lion shot with crossbow saved in 'epic rescue' from log boom on B.C.'s coast

A sea lion with gruesome injuries from a crossbow is recovering after a dramatic, community-wide rescue near Powell River, B.C., earlier this week.

Animal was emaciated and severely dehydrated by the time rescuers got to it

The sea lion was found with a large crossbow bolt sticking out of its back. (Ocean Wise/Vancouver Aquarium )

A sea lion with gruesome injuries from a crossbow is recovering after a dramatic, community-wide rescue near Powell River, B.C., earlier this week. 

The male Californian sea lion, nicknamed Archie after the boat operator who helped in the rescue, was spotted lying on a log boom at a local mill with a large crossbow bolt sticking out of its back. A bolt is similar to an arrow, but slightly shorter in length. 

Rescuers say the animal appeared to have been shot quite some time ago. 

"He's likely been suffering for weeks and has been unable to forage and hunt, which has worsened his condition," said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.  

The sea lion was emaciated and severely dehydrated by the time rescuers got to it on Tuesday. 

"It's heart-breaking to find an animal in this state [and] it's unacceptable to be harming wildlife like this," Haulena said in a statement. 

A team from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Vancouver Aquarium showed up for the rescue after hearing reports of the injured animal. 

A challenging part of the rescue was getting the animal off the logs and to shore. (Ocean Wise/Vancouver Aquarium )

They sedated the sea lion and removed the bolt from its back muscles, showing the extent of the massive puncture wound. 

And then came the tricky part: getting the 250 kilogram animal off the log booms and to the vet for treatment. 

A local boom company and boat driver Archie Kenmuir helped move the logs over to a ramp. 

Community members were then able to help bundle up the massive animal and pull it off the logs with a modified excavator to get it to shore. 

"It was truly an epic rescue, there is no other way to describe it," said Emily Johnson, assistant manager of the Vancouver Aquarium rescue centre.

"The coordination and community effort to help this animal was amazing."

The community pulled together to rescue the sea lion and used a modified excavator to move it to shore. (Ocean Wise/Vancouver Aquarium )

The sea lion was transported to the Vancouver Aquarium rescue centre where it's been treated with antibiotics, fluids and pain medication. Staff say the animal has injuries to its eyes, which could be a sign of previous shots to the face. 

This is the third time in two-and-a-half years that a sea lion has been admitted to the rescue centre for human-inflicted injuries. 

One was rescued from Spanish Banks in May 2017 and a second was found on Vancouver Island last October; both were shot in the head and blinded. 

With files from Meera Bains

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