Warning: This story contains graphic content that could be distressing to some.
The discovery of three dead seals with apparent bullet holes in their heads is causing concern there may be more to come in the community of Denman Island.
The beaches of the Gulf Island hold a special place for Dorrie Woodward, who has lived there for over 40 years. Woodward, the chair of the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, looks out for wildlife on each walk she takes.
That’s why she was shocked to find dead seals with bullet holes, laid out one after the other, on the beaches of Denman Island on Wednesday.
“First of all I found one down by the ferry landing, a bullet hole to the head and I thought ‘ugh that makes me feel sad,’ and then walking here I found another, with the help of my dog it was just there,” Woodward told CHEK News Saturday.
“And then I found a third. I thought…now this is really not OK. This isn’t random, there’s something methodical going on here.”
She says all of the dead seals had what appeared to be bullet holes, seemingly shot around the same time and very recently judging by the condition of their bodies.
So Saturday, Woodward and fellow Denman marine steward Melanie Hewson returned to take photos and document the seals’ locations to share with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“It’s so sad. Like what did that poor seal do other than try to exist?” said Hewson.
There have been growing calls for seal and sea lion culls off Vancouver Island for years, as fishermen have their nets torn and their catch eaten.
The cull was also promoted as a potential harvest, a new industry that would collect the pinnipeds’ meat and hides.
But Woodward says these dead seals were just left, with no apparent use for the kill.
“Many people have said oh there needs to be a cull. Well, is someone doing a cull illegally?” asked Woodward.
Denman residents are being urged to keep close watch on their shores as its feared there could be many more shot seals out there.
“They’re really concerned, and we will probably see others. So this won’t be, the three won’t be the end of it probably,” said Woodward.
Woodward is calling on authorities to investigate the killings now, saying her walks on Denman Island now carry an eerie feeling about what she might find next.