Five More Sea Lions Trapped at Bonneville Damby Erik Robinson, Staff Writer
The Columbian, April 29, 2008
State authorities trapped another five California sea lions at Bonneville Dam on Monday, sending four of them to their new home at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma. A fifth was branded and released.
Fishery managers remain concerned about sea lions eating endangered salmon. They plan to stage similar trap-and-haul operations twice a week for another month.
With the bulk of the spring salmon and steelhead run still to arrive at the dam, state officials say they remain concerned about sea lions eating fish protected by the Endangered Species Act. The fish are being attacked where they're most vulnerable, before passing the dam.
"We'll probably go toward the end of May," said Rick Hargrave, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Washington, Oregon and Idaho state fishery managers received approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service last month to kill as many as 85 California sea lions per year at the dam.
A federal court ruled last week that the sea lions could not be killed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case next month and issue a ruling after the salmon season ends.
Hargrave said fishery managers have found homes for as many as 20 sea lions. They are targeting for relocation relatively abundant California sea lions and releasing Stellar sea lions, which themselves are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
As of today, state authorities had trapped 13 pinnipeds.
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