Chilean prosecutors are looking into reports that fishermen in the southern region of Patagonia slaughtered hundreds of penguins and sea lions for use as bait, authorities said.
The investigation, led by the prosecutor’s office of Quellon on Chiloe Island, is focused on the uninhabited islets of Esmeralda and Guaipilan, where evidence of the killing has been found.
The islets are breeding grounds for sea lions and Chiloe penguins, an endangered species.
Prosecutor Rodrigo Valladares told reporters that the areas where the slaughter took place should be declared protected nature reserves to prevent incursions by fishermen.
Testimony from the crews of fishing boats operating in the area indicates that more than 100 sea lions and penguins were hacked or beaten to death on multiple occasions, Valladares said.
Chile’s minister of national patrimony, Victor Osorio, said his agency will coordinate with local authorities to better protect the Chiloe islands and the animals living there.
Source – http://www.laht.com