Dalian police bust harbor seal poaching ring

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Local police in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province, busted a poaching ring involving 100 harbor seal cubs in the north part of Liaodong Bay in recent weeks, but 37 of the animals are confirmed dead, according to local authorities.

On Feb 11, local police at Changxing Island found 100 stolen seal cubs, with 29 dead, police said. Another eight that were in critical condition when found died later. The remaining 63 are being cared for by ambulance workers, and drugs are still needed during feeding.

Suspects identified in the incident are Changxing Island residents who police said sneak out in a boat to steal newborn cubs from the harbor seals' natural breeding zone.

The harbor seal is not only a Level 2 protected national rare animal, but also the mascot of Liaoning province.

There are eight harbor seal breeding areas in the world and the Liaodong Bay area, where the poaching occurred is the southernmost site.

The protected animals usually cross the Bohai Strait in November and enter Liaodong Bay at the Bohai Sea to breed until February, then drift south, usually leaving the Bohai Sea in May.

The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, an NGO that focuses on animal protection and ecological conservation, said it is necessary to prohibit the aquarium from privately purchasing harbor seals.

The foundation also appealed to authorities that they register harbor seals raised in different places, and establish certain records for them, as wellas give the animals with distinctive spots an annual check.

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