Outdoors

Judge rules sea lions can be targeted in Columbia River

A sea lion catches an endangered chinook salmon migrating up the Columbia River just below the spillway at Bonneville Dam, Wash., in April 2007. (Associated Press)
A sea lion catches an endangered chinook salmon migrating up the Columbia River just below the spillway at Bonneville Dam, Wash., in April 2007. (Associated Press)

FISHERIES – A federal judge in Oregon last week ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service did not err when it reauthorized a program targeting sea lions for death in the Pacific Northwest.

The program intended to preserve endangered salmon by killing sea lions is within the bounds of the fisheries service and states as they try to balance the proection of sea lions with the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, the court ruled, according to a story in the Oregonian.

The program was reauthorized last year, through June 2016.

The Humane Society of the United States sued, saying the program targeting sea lions is arbitrary. They say the animals consume, at most, 4 percent of the salmon coming through the Bonneville Dam. Commercial and sport fishers, by contrast, take nearly 17 percent, The Oregonian reported ( ).

However, the judge pointed out that fishery managers can scale back fishing when runs are low but can’t do the same for sea lions.

The states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho backed the plan, part of an effort to keep alive five runs of salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act that pass Bonneville, the first dam they encounter on the Columbia River.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


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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