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Death of Sea Lions in Trap at Bonneville
Determined to be Accidental

by Pete Springer
Oregon Public Broadcasting, February 6, 2009

(Benjamin Brink) Sea lions linger on cage platforms set up by Washington and Oregon state officials at Bonneville Dam in late April. Federal officials have finalized their findings on the deaths of six sea lions in floating cages near Bonneville Dam last year. The deaths were accidental and did not involve human intervention.

Investigators aren't sure how the doors on two cages ended up closed last May, but they found no evidence that people had tampered with them.

The sea lions were being trapped as part of a program to keep them from eating migrating salmon.

Brian Gorman is a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

He says trip wires on the cage doors may been pulled by changing river levels or the movements of sea lions.

But Gorman says investigators also found half of the trapped sea lions had been shot at some point in their lives.

Gorman: "There are people taking shots at sea lions because they're frustrated with what's going on, I suspect. It's just an indication of part of the conflict that exists—not just between sea lions and salmon, but between sea lions and fishermen of all stripes."

Gorman says the situation at Bonneville is getting worse with more and more sea lions showing up every year to eat migrating salmon.

State fish and wildlife officials will begin trapping sea lions again on March 1st.

Once trapped, the sea lions are taken to an aquarium in Tacoma, where they're either adopted by other aquariums or sea parks, or euthanized.

Related Sites:
Necropsy report


Pete Springer
Death of Sea Lions in Trap at Bonneville Determined to be Accidental
Oregon Public Broadcasting, February 6, 2009

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