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As It Was: Coastal Newspaper Editor Opposes Killing Sea Lions

On July 24, 1928, the editor of Port Orford News, George Sorenson, called for the end to wanton hunting of sea lions.  The misguided carnage had been ongoing for a quarter century, and in 1928 hunters received a $10 bounty for each sea lion scalp.

Sorenson urged determination of whether the sea lions should be killed to protect salmon fishing or protected as natural tourist attractions on the Oregon Coast. 

To illustrate his point, he printed a report about a fishing boat operator taking four Portland doctors to the Cape Blanco reef to shoot sea lions for several hours.  The group killed an estimated 150 of the salmon-eating mammals, boasting it provided the same thrill as big game hunting in Africa.  

The media crusade to end the carnage persisted, support grew, and the state responded by reducing the bounty to 50 cents.  By 1930, the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries had determined that the sea lions did not hurt commercial salmon populations.

Five years later, federal legislation created the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, protecting the breeding grounds of seabirds and sea lions.


Sources: "Decries Wanton Slaughter of Sea Lions; Natural Attraction." Port Orford News, 24 July 1928, p. 1+; "Portland Doctors Taken on Sea lion Hunt at Blanco Reef." Ibid, 24 July 1928, p. 1; "Sea Lion Investigation." Ibid, 8 Oct. 1929, p. 2; "Sea Lion." Ibid, 20 Jan. 1931, p. 2; Peterson, Emil R., and Alfred Powers. A Century of Coos and Curry. Coos-Curry Pioneer and Historical Association, 1977, pp. 474-75; "Oregon Islands National Wildlife Sanctuary." US Fish & Wildlife Service, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Islands_National_Wildlife_Refuge.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.