Your hatred of seals and sea lions runs deep. Your father was a commercial fisherman, like his father before him. If they taught you anything about fishing, it was that marine mammals are the enemy. They serve no earthly purpose; the only good one is a dead one.
Never mind that seals and sea lions evolved over tens of millions of years to adapt to aquatic habitats, eventually becoming nature’s perfect fishers; that species of fish and other sea life evolved in harmony with pinnipeds and so were able to withstand their level of predation; or that the reasons salmon are more scarce than they were for your grand-pappy are all because of human activity—including commercial fishing.
That so-called “evolution” stuff is just some big lie made up by “scientists” who don’t know shit from Shinola and probably work for that other arch-enemy: the federal government. (Forget that the government has practically handed you a living since they granted your ancestors their first commercial fishing license.)
Your bible tells you the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that your god loves you better than he does any damn seal or sea lions. Anything you think you have to do to feed your family is forgivable in the eyes of the lord. Studying nature, any further than learning where the schools of fish are likely to be on a given day, is heresy.
Your sense of entitlement is trumped only by your all-consuming hatred of seals and sea lions. So what if they look cute and comical hauled out on beaches or docks in the marina, those beaches and docks belong to you, not them! So do the fish they steal from you and the nets they mess up when they get entangled in them.
So you bring your rifle along whenever you’re out at sea. Shooting them, as your daddy did before you, is the one thing that makes you feel better. It feels good when you see your bullet find its mark and tear into their flesh. It’s not legal anymore, but no one’s watching or does anything about it. You’d have to be pretty obvious to get into any trouble.
Who cares that most of them don’t die outright, but instead suffer slowly with of lead poisoning or infection. Most of them sink to the bottom eventually—out of sight, out of mind.
Sometimes they wash up on your beach or haul out to give birth. It really burns you when people appreciate them and try to protect them with signs warning drivers to watch out for them.
Last week a pregnant seal hauled out and people gushed while she brought yet another seal into the world. If there’s one thing there are too many of, it’s seals and sea lions. God will back you up on that. Do-gooders waited and watched over her, placing signs around her to warn motorists.
It shouldn’t have been an issue, since the upland dunes are off-limits to driving, but your hatred of seals and sea lions blinds you to rules and regulations. The do-gooders were around all day and into the evening, so you wait until the early-morning tide, when no one will witness.
You’ve watched the seal from a distance and know just where to find her as you drive your big, jacked-up four-by-four a mile north of the Ocean Park beach approach. This is your home turf and you know exactly where to go. You find the seal and her pup just where you saw them the day before, in the upland dune grass, where the feds say you shouldn’t drive because some nesting birds take precedence over your fun.
The signs on either side of the seals are visible before the animals are, and you use them to help you zero in on your target. Shooting them would be easier, but the noise might attract attention, so you do the next best thing—you run right over the mother seal, severing her tail.
Checking on your handy work, you see that she’s bleeding badly and will no doubt die
from her wounds. The pup, on the other hand, is unharmed, but bleating noisily. Someone will probably nurse it back to health if they find it there, so you stuff the newborn pup in a sack, throw it in the back of the truck and bring it to your property in the woods.
What you do with the pup there, people can only speculate. It might come out later in your trial. You were sloppy this time; you left tire tracks where people don’t normally drive. It’s not like no one knows you or ever sees you driving the beach there.
You shocked a lot of people and a lot of folks are angry. People may like to celebrate fishermen, but your feeble rationalizations and your custom and cultural quaintness won’t get you out of it this time.