Local officials mulling how to deal with ‘out of control’ harassment of sea lions at Point La Jolla

December 16, 2021

The California Coastal Commission is reportedly weighing in on the “out of control” situation between people and sea lions at Point La Jolla.

Currently, the city of San Diego is exploring a permit to close Point La Jolla during the next sea lion pupping season. Meanwhile, animal rights activists have pleaded their case to the California Coastal Commission, the La Jolla Light reported.

Members of the Sierra Club of San Diego and the Sierra Club Seal Society made public comments during a commission meeting in November. Though no immediate action was taken, several commissioners called instances of people harassing or getting too close to sea lions “quite disturbing.”

Point La Jolla has been closed in the past because of human-sea lion interactions. Over the summer, San Diego temporarily closed the point for five weeks.

The area is “of the few sea lion rookeries on mainland California, giving the public the rare chance to view intact sea lion colonies interacting with their normal behaviors at a rookery,” according to the Seal Society. The annual pupping season in the area spans from June 1 to Oct. 31.

A Seal Society docent, Elena Tillman, called the Point La Jolla situation a “crisis” because of the “severe human harassment” of sea lions.

Back when the point reopened in September, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava penned a letter to community leaders advising them that the city would again close the area in future pupping seasons. However, he said there would be opportunities for public feedback before future closures, which would require a permit.

Animal rights activists have said that the seasonal closure should last months.

Neither the city of San Diego nor the Coast Commission have the ability to independently close the point. However, city staff and the commission are working together with interested parties on a solution.

Jack Ainsworth, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, said the city and commission might need to “get creative” in dedicating resources, such as a ranger, to enforce the rules.

About the author: Mike Peterson is a freelance journalist and writer based in North San Diego County. He’s written and worked for a number of local media outlets, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, the North Coast Current, and the Oceanside Blade.

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