Bill Introduced Aimed at
by Bill Rudolph
Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) and Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) introduced a bill Jan. 27 in the U.S. House of Representatives that would authorize tribal members along the Columbia River to lethally remove sea lions that are preying on salmon runs.
Currently, only state fish agency personnel are allowed to lethally remove the marine mammals, which ate an estimated 2 percent of last year's spring Chinook run at Bonneville Dam.
According to a statement from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the proposed legislation would accelerate the process for granting lethal-take authority, limit the cumulative take to 1 percent of the annual biological potential removal level, and limit the lethal take to 10 animals per permit holder.
It also calls for the Secretary of Commerce to report on any additional legislation needed to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act within two years.
The bill is supported by fish conservation groups, CRITFC and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"We have been entrusted to protect these endangered fish populations and this legislation introduced by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler gives us the tools we need," said Guy Norman, regional director of WDFW, in a CRITFC press release.
According to GovTrack.us, the measure has only about a 3-percent chance of becoming law at this point.
The proposed legislation is similar to bills pushed by now-retired Washington congressman Doc Hastings, who tried for years to pass legislation that would expedite lethal removal of sea lions at the dam.
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