Police: Sea Lion Pup Stolen From Los Angeles Beach

(FOX 11 / CNS) A baby sea lion was stolen from its mother on Dockweiler State Beach today, and a wildlife expert warned the thieves may suffer unpleasant surprises: nasty bites and federal prosecution.

"They (sea lions) have a bite 10 times greater than a pit bull," said Pete Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue. "Someone may have gotten bitten.' Wallerstein said security officers from Dockweiler State Beach literally came to his nearby home about 3:30 a.m. to report that two baby sea lions came to shore and that one had become stuck in some bushes.

He said that when he arrived at the scene he was able to free the baby sea lion, but was told by two Los Angeles police officers that people had taken the other one.

The suspects wrapped the sea lion pup up in a blanket and drove away, which is a federal crime.

"That's going to be tough because most people don't know how to feed them. And to take them comes with a $10,000 fine and a year in prison," Wallerstein said.

"It's hard to feed them and they need water."

A witness told officers the suspects were harassing and taunting two baby sea lions before taking one, accoridng to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Wallerstein said it was commonplace for baby sea lions to come ashore.

"They're all over the place. They're all over the park (Dockweiler State Beach). They're having a problem with starving," he said. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, was conducting an investigation into the kidnapped baby sea lion, since Sea Lions are federally protected, according to the LAPD.

The suspects are believed to be two males and two females, all Hispanic, betweeen 20 and 25 years old. They were in a dark, two-door Honda Civic with California plates, the last two numbers of which are "56," police said. Anyone with information about the suspects or the sea lion pup was urged to contact the LAPD's Pacific Station at (310) 482-6334. Calls can also be directed to (877) LAPD-24-7 and anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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