Wildlife Workers Kill 38 Sea Lions
by Pat Dooris
Wildlife workers from Oregon and Washington have killed 38 California sea lions at Bonneville Dam this year.
That's the most in any single year since getting approval from NOAA Fisheries in 2008.
NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein says it appears the program is working.
"These are the fish that a lot of people are working really hard to save by improving habitat and making improvements at the dam and we don't want to lose ground by having them be eaten by sea lions on their way back to spawn," he said.
The authorization to kill the animals runs out in June of 2016. Oregon and Washington have asked for another five years. NOAA Fisheries is expected to decide in June or July. More than 1,000 people posted comments during the public testimony phase of the renewal.
Sport fishing guide Bill Monroe Jr. supports the program. He's seen sea lions take fish off customers lines. He also worries about their impact on endangered salmon and sturgeon.
"I don't think we need to kill every sea lion we see. That's not the point here. The point here is to cull the population to a point where it won't have such a huge impact," he said.
But the Humane Society of the U.S. is against the program. It sued the states in Federal Court in 2008, but lost.
Now it's again arguing that the program should stop.
"This is, if you will, a kind of treadmill of death. You put the animals on it and you're never gonna get off because it isn't getting you anywhere. What you are doing is not making any progress at all. Which means you are killing them for nothing," said Sharon Young with the Humane Society.
This year, during the height of the sea lion occupation, biologists counted 6,500 of the animals from Bonneville Dam to the East Mooring Basin in Astoria. That is the largest number ever for the Columbia River.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs