Fighting Sea Lions for Fish
by Editorial Board
The citizens of Washington and the nation are spending millions and millions of dollars on efforts to protect salmon and save them and the ecosystem they support from the threat of extinction.
Those goals are being hurt by California sea lions that have outsmarted the system and now wait patiently for the fish to be corralled into the ladders at Columbia River dams. We pay more in taxes to save the salmon and for electricity generated at the dams and the sea lions get more to eat. Nearly a dozen salmon and steelhead runs that use the Columbia River qualify for federal engendered species protection.
Two Washington congressmen who represent districts along the river have proposed a change of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which currently forbids anyone from killing marine mammals.
We don't really like the idea of killing sea lions, but there appears to be no alternative. Officials have tried harassing the sea lions and spooking them off with everything from firecrackers to rubber bullets. But sea lions like to eat salmon, and they don't want to leave their easy meals.
The bill now being considered in Congress would allow Oregon, Washington and Columbia River Indian tribes to get permits to kill a limited number of sea lions when harassment techniques have failed.
Unless we are OK with spending millions of dollars to feed sea lions, the limited-kill plan seems a much-needed solution.
www.bluefish.org: Salmon & Ecologics: Predation
Sea Lions Eating Record Number of Salmon at Bonneville by Wilson Chow, KGW, 5/18/7
Humane Society Opposes Killing Columbia River Sea Lionsby Associated Press, KGW, 4/3/7
Feasting Sea Lions Frustrate Salmon Backers by Les Blumenthal, The Bellingham Herald, 4/16/7
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