Task Force Will Reconvene to Assess
An 18-member task force will reconvene Monday and Tuesday in Portland to assess a program to eradicate California sea lions eating imperiled wild salmon below Bonneville Dam.
The daylong meetings, open to the public, will be at the DoubleTree Lloyd Center at 1000 N.E. Multnomah St. in Portland. The task force will convene again Nov. 9 and 10, then deliver a written report to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The meeting Monday begins at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting Tuesday starts at 8:30 a.m. At 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, the task force will provide an opportunity for members of the public to identify additional information that may be of value and submit written input.
The Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force first met in 2007.
It produced a report that recommended, by a 17-1 vote, that federal authorities permit Oregon and Washington to capture and kill sea lions specifically identified as nuisance animals.
That permit remains in effect through June 30, 2012.
Since the program began, state wildlife agents have captured and killed 22 animals and relocated 10 sea lions to zoos or aquariums willing to take them.
In addition, they inadvertently killed six animals that became trapped in a pair of floating side-by-side cages in 2008 and died of heat stroke. Only one of those animals had been on the hit list.
The task force includes representatives of state, federal and tribal agencies, scientists, fishing lobbyists and animal-welfare experts.
Officials are trying to reduce the amount of wild salmon devoured by sea lions congregating in front of a man-made bottleneck. The National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 approved a waiver under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which allows the states to kill nuisance animals eating wild fish protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Animal-rights groups contend the sea lions are being unfairly blamed for wild salmon driven to the brink of extinction by many decades of overfishing, dams and habitat degradation.
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