Barriers Erected at Dam
by Associated Press
CASCADE LOCKS -- The sea lions that have been feasting on this year's threatened run of spring chinook salmon have been barred from entering the Bonneville Dam fish ladders.
Workers have bolted bars across the ladders to shield the salmon from the voracious sea animals.
The custom-made aluminum "jail bars" are 36 feet tall and 12 feet wide across the entrances to the fish passage structures. The $100,000 barrier is the latest in an arms race that has deployed rubber bullets, sounds broadcast underwater and fireworks -- all in a futile effort to scare off the sea lions.
This year has seen some of the lowest returns in years, making the sea lions' presence more than just a nuisance.
This year, officials estimate that sea lions have eaten more than 2,500 salmon at Bonneville, more than 4 percent of the 60,800 fish that have reached the dam.
American Indian tribes with treaty rights to salmon in the Columbia have asked Oregon and Washington to kill the predators. But the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 makes it a federal crime to injure or kill a sea lion.
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