Officials Plan More Sea Lion Harassmentby Henry Miller
Statesman Journal, March 22, 2006
Salmon smorgasbord target of increased hazing area
NEWPORT -- Officials in Oregon and Washington are hoping to close the "Bonneville buffet" in April. Hazing of sea lions below the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam will be expanded 12 miles downriver on the Columbia River the first week of April into concerted effort by Fish and Wildlife departments in both states, as well as ongoing efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers, to try to curb salmon losses at the choke point for fish passage.
"The activities between the dam and Marker 85 (12 miles downriver), will focus on individual animals utilizing all of the tools that are available to us for hazing techniques," said Steve Williams. "In an attempt to address the salmon issue, but also the sturgeon issue ..."
Williams, the executive administrator of the Fish Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, briefed commission members on the sea lion issue Friday during the March meeting here.
The high-profile situation at the dam, with footage on nightly newscasts of California sea lions munching on spring-run chinook salmon, some federally protected, and Stellar sea lions killing and eating spawning-size sturgeon, caused commission member Skip Klarquist of Portland to refer to the situation as the "Bonneville buffet." Efforts to drive the sea lions from the area near the dam will be ramped up soon, Williams said.
"We're going to start this activity the first week of April, and focus through the months of April and May and be monitoring, of course, as we go," Williams said, adding that the efforts will include all the non-lethal tools at the disposal of federal and state officials allowed under Section 109 of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Williams' briefing came on the heels of a request at the January meeting by commissioner Dan Edge of Corvallis for department officials to look into the possibility of implementing Section 120 of the act.
That allows states to ask for authority kill sea lions that are specifically identified as preying on fish that are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.
While commissioners in both Oregon and Washington have asked their respective Fish and Wildlife departments to look into the potential for using Section 120, that is a long, expensive, divisive and frustrating road, Williams said.
Nothing should be overlooked in the pursuit of both short- and long-term solutions, said Marla Rae of Salem, the commission chairwoman
Itemizing the options, Rae asked and received confirmation from Williams that:
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