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Sea lions raising hell above Bonneville Dam

A sea lion eats a salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam. Wildlife biologists in Oregon and Washington say hungry sea lions at the mouth of the Columbia River are responsible for the rapid decline in numbers of sturgeon in the river. (Associated Press)
A sea lion eats a salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam. Wildlife biologists in Oregon and Washington say hungry sea lions at the mouth of the Columbia River are responsible for the rapid decline in numbers of sturgeon in the river. (Associated Press)

PREDATORS -- Like the cormorants that move in ahead of them, California sea lions are leaving their original saltwater hunting areas to chase fish inland as they go up the Columbia River.

At least three, and maybe four of the big marine mammals this year have managed to find their way up the Columbia 146 miles from the Pacific Ocean to cross above Bonneville Dam.

The sea lions have in recent years increased their presence in the waters below Bonneville Dam, feeding on salmon and steelhead spawners that are looking for an upstream passage route.

More recently they’ve been seen at The Dalles Dam, which is another 45 miles upstream from Bonneville.

Tribal spokesmen say the sea lions have been raising hell for tribal gillnets in the area.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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