A dead sea lion at the hovercraft ramp on Parksville’s waterfront has brought odour complaints to the city, but DFO has recommended letting nature take its course. — J.R. Rardon photo

Resident sea lion an unwanted guest

Dead animal on Parksville beach cannot be removed by city

A sea lion on the beach in Parksville has proved to be an unwanted guest. But it may not be leaving any time soon.

The dead sea lion, lying just beside the hovercraft ramp at the end of the seawalk at Community Park, was first reported to the city office on Monday (May 15) . It is not known exactly when it appeared, and whether it died on the beach or was washed ashore after dying.

But, despite some concerns to the city from trail walkers about the potential smell, there is little the city can do about the decomposing animal carcass.

“Unfortunately, it is not a city mandate that we can deal with,” Coun. Teresa Patterson said during Monday evening’s council meeting. “It has to be with DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and other environmental organizations that will wind up looking after that aspect of nature.”

Patterson described the response she received from DFO as “let nature take its course.”

Blaine Russell, the city’s director of community planning, said the city is still exploring options for potentially removing the sea lion carcass.

“We do have calls in to various agencies at this time,” he said. “It would be wonderful if DFO would come and take it out to sea. It’s not something we’re equipped for, or within the city’s area of expertise.”

The carcass is lying just below the high-tide line, in an area popular with people hiking the beach walk and trails. The jurisdiction falls under the control of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), so the animal is not, technically, on city property.

“It’s certainly an interesting division of responsibility,” said Russell. “The ground from the high-tide mark on down is owned by province, but the layer of water in between is federal. As far as environmental issues there, fisheries would take precedent.”

Steve Ackles, acting sergeant of the mid-Island region office of the Conservation Officer Service, confirmed the sea lion would fall under DFO jurisdiction.

“We handle wildlife and freshwater fish, but sea mammals and anadromous fish are under control of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans,” Ackles said.

There is one other authority that could step in and take care of the matter.

“Hopefully, a big storm will come and wash it away,” Russell said with a laugh.

DFO was unavailable for comment.