Sea Lion Buffet at Bonneville Dam Gets Messyby Tom Banse
Oregon Public Broadcasting, May 3, 2010
The annual sea lion feeding frenzy at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River has peaked.
The sea lions feast on the spring salmon migration, including some fish on the endangered list. Tom Banse reports biologists have noticed two trends this year they're calling "disturbing."
The states of Oregon and Washington have permission to trap and kill California sea lions that persist in feeding on endangered salmon.
But this spring, Steller sea lions have shown up the dam in large numbers, more than double the previous record for that species.
This presents a problem says Army Corps of Engineers biologist Robert Stansell.
Robert Stansell: "There's several complicating factors. One is the Steller sea lions are listed as threatened or endangered. It'd be difficult, thereíd be a whole process that would have to be gone through to handle those animals like they do the California sea lions."
Nine California sea lions have been put down this year, though none lately. The animals are now avoiding the traps set for them.
Stansell is also disturbed by a wave of newcomers. The new sea lions erased last year's drop in these predators below the Columbia River dam.
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