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Ecology and salmon related articles

Bill Would Streamline Process to
Kill Sea Lions Near Bonneville Dam

by Brian Brennan
KGW8, April 4, 2017

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler says current efforts to protect
native fish species in the Columbia River ARE NOT WORKING.

Ted Walsey, fishery technician for Columbia River Inner Tribal Fish Commission, fires a cracker shell towards a sea lion, during routine hazing on the Columbia River near the Bonneville Dam (Ariane Kunze / Columbian) One congresswoman says current efforts to protect native fish species in the Columbia River are not working.

Jaime Herrera Beutler's bill, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, would allow local and tribal managers with training to lethally remove a limited number of sea lions. The bill has been approved by congressional committee and awaits a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives.

People in the fishing industry know how crafty sea lions can be.

"They do attack the fish when they are on the line," said fisherman Rudy Bass.

Bass sells wild caught salmon. Sea lions can be a danger to his livelihood.

"A lot of the harvest that we're taking have sea lion bites in them," he said. "And people think something is wrong with the fish because it has a big sea lion bite in them."

U.S Fish and Wildlife spokespeople say sea lions know exactly where to go for an easy meal. They hang out by the Bonneville Dam. Fish are spit out with little chance of getting away.

Some studies show the amount of fish being eaten by sea lions has multiplied five times in the last four years. Current efforts to protect the fish include chasing the sea lions away, called hazing, and lethal removal. The lethal removal requires a several step process which includes identifying the specific animal, proving it has been at the dam for five days, and catching it in the act of eating a fish near the dam.

"It's not working," said Herrera Beutler. "There is a probability some runs are going to become extinct."

She says the current process is too long. Her new piece of legislation would streamline the process and allow trained tribal managers to kill and remove sea lions near the Bonneville Dam.

"The reality is this is not a healthy ecosystem. There are too many sea lions and they are literally taking out salmon and steelhead population," said Beutler.

Another effort to protect native fish began Tuesday. The state of Oregon won a legal battle requiring 8 dams in the Northwest to increase their water spill, making it safer for fish to travel through.

Related Pages:
Gillnetters Fall Short of Harvest Target in Tuesday Fishery; Heavy Sea Lion Presence Cited by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 4/10/15
Sea Lions Focus of Fish Survival War by Gillian Flaccus, The Dalles Chronicle, 3/22/18

Brian Brennan
Bill Would Streamline Process to Kill Sea Lions Near Bonneville Dam
KGW8, April 4, 2017

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