Two Orange County men may face local, state and federal charges of animal cruelty and discharging a firearm after apparently luring sea lions to their boat off Newport Beach and shooting at them with pellet guns, authorities said.
The men were spotted Tuesday morning by Newport Beach lifeguards and a Police Department animal control officer who happened to be at lifeguard headquarters.
Using binoculars, they saw two men in a 30-foot sport fishing boat pointing what appeared to be a handgun at nearby sea lions.
Orange County Sheriff's Department Harbor Patrol officers were called about 10:50 a.m. and found pellet guns on the boat. The two were questioned and released. No injured sea lions were found in the vicinity of the boat.
The Orange County district attorney's office will determine if criminal charges will be filed against the men.