Columbia River Tribes Support
PORTLAND, Ore. - Leaders of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission have expressed support for a plan to kill on a limited basis California sea lions that are preying on endangered Columbia River salmon at the Bonneville Dam fish ladder.
The National Marine Fisheries Service recommends approval of the plan, requested by three states and the Columbia River tribes: Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Yakama.
"Lack of action toward the real and immediate threat of sea lion predation is unacceptable," Commission Chairwoman Fidelia Andy, Yakama, said in a press release.
"We refuse to allow Columbia River spring chinook to be driven into extinction as the Lake Washington steelhead were in the 1990s ... Salmon has always been the lifeblood to our tribal culture. Our tribes have and always will be here to fight for their survival."
The states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington requested permission for limited lethal removal of the sea lions after attempts to deter them through hazing demonstrated little success. State and tribal fisheries managers estimate the lower Columbia River sea lion population to be approaching 2,000.
The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the coastal California sea lion population to be more than 300,000, up from 50,000 in the early 1970s.
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