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PLAYA DEL REY (CBSLA.com) — Nasty bites and federal prosecution are just two of the risks for whomever stole a baby seal lion from its mother on Dockweiler State Beach early Sunday morning, according to a wildlife expert.

Pete Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue told City News Service that sea lions “have a bite 10 times greater than a pit bull,” and he is concerned that someone may have been bitten when one of two sea lion pups was taken from the beach sometime before 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Wallerstein said he went to the beach after security officers alerted him that two baby sea lions had come to shore, and one had gotten stuck in some nearby bushes.

Wallerstein freed the stuck pup, but said two Los Angeles police officers told him four people had wrapped the other sea lion pup in a blanket, put it in their vehicle and drove away. That’s a federal crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail

The people who took the pup could also run into an issue taking care of it, Wallerstein said.

“It’s hard to feed them and they need fluids, they need specialized care,” he said.

Wallerstein said that baby sea lions often come to shore, and are having an issue with starving.

According to the LAPD, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the kidnapping.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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