Sea Lion Gates at Bonneville Dam
by Brian Barker Watch this story
BONNEVILLE DAM - There is a surprising development in the fight to keep sea lions from eating thousands of salmon at Bonneville Dam.
KATU News has learned the gates that were meant to keep sea lions from going up the fish ladder, and that cost $1 million to install, may be keeping out the fish as well.
The fishing at Bonneville Dam this year is abysmal.
"Well, I'm amazed that there is no fish in the river," said fisherman Richard Larson, who was watching an empty window that looks into the fish ladder.
"The last three days we've been counting maybe 30 Chinook passing the dam and typically this time of year there would be between 1,000 and 4,000 per day," said Biologist Robert Stancell.
Stancell believes sea lions are a big part of the problem, but ever since the Corps of Engineers put gates up to keep them out, it seems not much else is getting through either.
Some people believe the gates are scaring the fish away, maybe emitting an electrical charge.
"I really doubt that's the cause," said Stancell.
Whatever is happening, the Corps of Engineers is investigating whether those gates are scaring off the fish they are meant to protect.
As for the sea lions, well they are pretty smart and some have already figured out how to get around the gates.
One sea lion hitched a ride on a barge and then simply jumped off when it arrived where he wanted.
"We've heard of that before, but this is the first time we've got video of it actually happening," said Stancell.
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