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Sea Lions Damage Salmon Population

by Dennis L. Clay, Outdoor Writer
Capital Press, April 28, 2006

Capital Press reader Richard Westbrook of Smith River, Calif., contacted me about the increasing sea lion population and the damage they are doing to the salmon population.

"The sea lions are harming the number of salmon making it upstream on several rivers, including the Rogue and the Columbia," he said.

From a recent joint press release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:

"Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife departments are teaming up to discourage sea lions from eating salmon, steelhead and other game fish.

"Up to 1,000 sea lions flocked to the Columbia River last year, devouring spring chinook salmon and making their way up the fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, despite attempts to drive them off with fireworks and acoustic devices. This year, sea lions also have been observed killing adult female sturgeon and have entered Columbia River tributaries, such as the Lewis River, where they are feeding on steelhead.

"Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife agencies will seek federal authority and funding to remove a select number of problem sea lions from the river if hazing is determined to be unsuccessful. Hazing methods available under federal law include acoustic and percussive devices, flares, and rubber bullets.

"An adult sea lion typically eats five to seven salmon a day. Last year 500-1,000 sea lions were estimated to be hunting in the Columbia River, and at least as many are expected to enter the river this year seeking food.

"In addition to biological impacts caused by sea lion predation, reduced salmon and sturgeon populations will have a negative effect on local economies upriver as far as Brewster and Bridgeport."

Richard, it sounds as if the fish and wildlife agencies are trying to get a handle on the situation. But it is ironic to have endangered Steller sea lions eating endangered salmon and steelhead.

I'm not one to pay much attention to political correctness, so my attitude is that the fish and wildlife agencies should be granted permission to simply shoot, destroy, exterminate, do away with, blast (you pick the phrase) any sea lion that travels up a river past the point where they would be feasting on salmon and steelhead runs to the point that the fish populations would be considerably reduced.

Dennis L. Clay, Outdoor Writer
Sea Lions Damage Salmon Population
Capital Press, April 28, 2006

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