the film

Chinook Salmon: Dams are
Real Threat Not Sea Lions

by Jean Williams
The Examiner, April 2, 2010

In this April 24, 2008 file photo, a sea lion eats a salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam in North Bonneville, Wash. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File) There are six existing species of sea lions, with one extinct species, the Japanese sea lion. They are characterized by their ability to walk on all four flippers on land and their trainability for throwing and balancing balls on their nose for performances at zoos and theme parks.

They are also known for eating salmon.

Spring is the time that Chinook salmon runs begin in the Columbia River, in Washington, south of the Seattle-Tacoma area.

This year the animals have been trapped and killed by Oregon and Washington wildlife agencies, because they are feeding on fish.

The sea lions have been labeled as "problem" animals for doing what they naturally do--eating food to survive.

According to the government's own statistics, California sea lions only eat between 0.2% and 4% of the spring run below the Bonneville Dam, which is an infinitesimal amount of the salmon population returning home to spawn.

Wildlife officials have failed to address the real threat to salmon stocks and Chinook recovery, which is dams, like the Bonneville; over fishing, habitat destruction, and non-native fish species.

Authority was given a year ago to lift protection for sea lions under the Marine Mammal Protection act.

Since that time, 33 sea lions have been trapped, 24 are dead, and the rest put into permanent captivity.

According the In Defense of Animals Alert page: Sea lions are the scape-goat for human problems. More than $800,000 tax dollars per year are pooled together from federal and state agencies complicit in this project, paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which operates the dam and is in charge of identifying sea lions for removal, and Washington and Oregon wildlife agencies which applied for the permit and carry out the killing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives the killing authorization.

Sea lions have been reported to help save humans, who show signs of distress in the open waters, by assisting them. In June of 2000, Kevin Hines fell into the San Francisco bay and it was reported that he was saved by a sea lion that kept him afloat and breathing till the paramedics arrived.

Unfortunately for sea lions, fishing quotas will increase this year, allowing fishermen to take 16%, while sea lions typically only take 1%.

Jean Williams
Chinook Salmon: Dams are Real Threat Not Sea Lions
The Examiner, April 2, 2010

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