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A male California sea lion grabbed a young girl by her dress and pulled her into the water off Steveston's docks on Saturday, May 20. Marine mammal experts say the animal most likely mistook the dress for food. (Michael Fujiwara/CBC)
A male California sea lion grabbed a young girl by her dress and pulled her into the water off Steveston’s docks on Saturday, May 20. Marine mammal experts say the animal most likely mistook the dress for food. (Michael Fujiwara/CBC)

Port officials are lambasting the family of a young girl for “reckless behaviour” after she was dragged into the water by a sea lion off a dock at Steveston in Richmond, B.C.

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Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, said there are several signs posted at the popular tourist destination warning people not to feed the sea mammals that frequent the area.

“You wouldn’t go up to a grizzly bear in the bush and hand him a ham sandwich, so you shouldn’t be handing a thousand-pound wild mammal in the water slices of bread,” Kiesman said.

“And you certainly shouldn’t be letting your little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once. Just totally reckless behaviour.”

Kiesman said that there are similar issues with people feeding marine mammals throughout B.C., including Prince Rupert, Comox and Victoria.

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