Sea lion conservation

Clinton G. Abbott, photographed for Bird-Lore, January 1940.

“In 1936 the State of California had placed firm restrictions against the killing or capture of sea lions, as well as most other marine mammals, along its coast. Mexico had passed similar laws concerning the critically endangered elephant seal in its waters. Mexico, though, was not as stringent when it came to conservancy issues regarding sea lions.

“The Dr. Ross Dog and Cat Food Company from Los Alamitos, California, had begun to take advantage of the poor protection afforded these animals in Mexico during 1937. Becoming a target for conservationists because of their whale calf hunting and vehement opposition to California’s protection of marine mammals, the company had fallen into receivership and turned to Mexican waters after having their request to hunt off California denied.”

Clinton Abbot (photo above), director of the Natural History Museum in San Diego, made great progress in 1939 in influencing the defeat of a California bill to resume sea lion hunting. His article, “Sea Lion Slaughter” published in Bird-Lore, the journal of the National Association of Audubon Societies, attracted much attention. It was reprinted several times, including a Spanish language version published in Mexico. Abbott’s story aroused international sentiment.

Further, “…the Ross Company was left reeling by Abbott and other conservancy efforts to stop their hunting. Already in receivership in 1937 after their whaling rights were revoked, Abbott’s campaign put a further dent into their profits. By 1944, they declared bankruptcy.”

Excerpts from . Click on the link to read to read the full story of Abbot’s and others’ work in protecting sea lions.

Image: San Diego Natural History Museum Director Clinton G. Abbott in January, 1940. (Photo: San Diego Natural History Museum Research Library) via .

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