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100 spotted seal cubs stolen from Liaodong Bay

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:35, February 22, 2019

The rescued spotted seal cubs  Photo via CCTV

Some 100 spotted seal cubs were poached from Liaodong Bay, northeast China’s Liaoning province, which is equal to nearly half of the annual birth rate of the local spotted seal population, triggering national concerns over wildlife protection.

The poaching case was solved by Dalian police in Liaoning province on Feb. 11. Only 62 of the cubs survived. Three suspects were arrested at the scene, but three others remain at large and local police authorities have set up a special task force to find them and pursue the case.

The 62 seal cubs have been sent to local wildlife aid bodies for treatment. As of press time, most are in good shape, but four require special treatment. A health assessment and wild training will be conducted on all the seals before they are released back into the wild.

The cute-looking animals have become easy targets for poachers as aquariums gain popularity in more cities, which has increased the demand for spotted seals.

Spotted seals are a national second-class protected wild animal in China. They are mainly found in the China’s Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, and are the only pinnipeds (fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals) that can breed in Chinese waters. There are currently 2,000 spotted seals living in Liaodong Bay.

Specifically, the spotted seal population in Liaodong Bay has reproduced in isolation with their counterparts worldwide and therefore deserve better protection for genetic studies, experts noted.

The 100 poached cubs roughly equal half of the annual birth rate of the local spotted seal population in Liaodong Bay, experts pointed out, warning that it could have a hazardous impact on the local species.

According to China’s Criminal Law, those who illegally hunt or kill national protected animals or purchase, transport, and sell products made from protected animals can receive a punishment of over 10 years imprisonment.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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