Kill California sea lions?
March 19, 2012
The U.S. Government has authorized the limited killing of California sea lions in an attempt to protect endangered Columbia River salmon in Oregon and Washington. [LaredoSun]
On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved the sanctioned killing of California sea lions in an attempt to stop the hungry mammals from swimming upstream and gathering at the Bonneville Dam, on the border between Oregon and Washington state, to eat salmon and steelhead trout as the fish head up the Columbia River to spawn.
Critics of the approved killings contend fishing, hatchery practices, hydroelectric dam barriers and environmental degradation pose a far greater risk to fish stock numbers than sea lions.
“We are very disappointed in this decision,” said Sharon Young, marine issues field director for the Humane Society of the United States, to the Laredo Sun. “Lethal management is not necessary and will do nothing to help the salmon.”
While both the salmon and sea lions populations are protected by the federal government – the salmon by the Endangered Species Act and the sea lions by the Marine Mammal Protection Act – sea lion populations are thriving while salmon numbers are dwindling.
Several countries that border the Pacific Ocean are now blaming the overpopulation of sea lions, slated at up to 10 times the mammals normal population numbers, for the severe drop in fish stocks.
In February, the Chilean government officially approved the hunting of sea lions with the meat to be used for dog food. Government officials in Chili claim the overpopulation of sea lions is responsible for losses of $140 million (U.S. dollars) yearly, the Santiago Sun said.
California sea lions currently number nearly 300,000 along the West Coast, according to the NOAA.
The NOAA order allows the killing of sea lions in Washington and Oregon if they are spotted eating salmon, and the mammals refuse to quit after hazing such as the use of firecrackers and rubber buckshot, the Laredo Sun said.