Sea Lions to Be Killed for Eating Endangered Fish
by Stephen Messenger
Treehugger, May 15, 2011
For a group of California sea lions that have found a virtual buffet of endangered salmon at the base of the Bonneville Dam, between Oregon and Washington, the feeding frenzy will soon be coming to an end -- violently. Late last week, officials from the NOAA's Fisheries Service authorized officials to rid the Columbia River of the opportunistic sea lions after more humane methods, like firecrackers and rubber bullets, failed to deter them.
Over the last decade, wildlife officials charged with safeguarding the journey of endangered salmon and steelhead up the Columbia River basin have recorded an increasing number of California sea lions frequenting the area, easily feasting on the protected fish. Since 2008, authorities working near the base of the Bonneville Dam, 150 miles from the Pacific Ocean, had been permitted to relocate the sea lions, but now more drastic action will be taken.
According to a report from the NOAA's web site in regards to the action, the decision to kill marauding sea lions wasn't arrived to lightly.
"This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover," says William W. Stelle Jr., the Northwest regional administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service.
Under the new plan, officials from Washington and Oregon will now be permitted to kill 85 problem sea lions annually -- just a fraction of the nearly 5,000 animals that have been traveling upriver in recent years to feast.
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