Tribes, Fisherman Rally For Sea Lion Removal
Around 200 fisherman and tribal members rallied near Willamette Falls Saturday. They showed support for a bill that would allow tribes with fishing rights to kill some sea lions on the Columbia river.
Sara Thompson, with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, says sea lions have eaten about twice as many fish as usual at the dams this year.
“We’ve seen probably, just in the quarter mile below Bonneville dam, over 8,000 Salmon and Steelhead consumed by sea lions,” she said.
The bill, HR 564, is sponsored by Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader and Washington Republican Jaime Herrera-Beutler.
State wildlife managers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho already have the authority to trap and kill sea lions, and have euthanized at least 30 this year.
The bill would also allow states and tribes to target sea lions that prey on a broader range of fish, not just those that snack on threatened salmon.
Federal biologists say the high number of sea lions spotted this year on the Columbia are the result of strong smelt and salmon runs. They say unusually warm ocean temperatures have made it difficult for the marine mammals to find prey off the California coast and have driven them north.
Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting