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Ruling to come soon on killing of sea lions

PORTLAND – A federal judge will decide by the end of May whether to stop the government from killing sea lions that eat endangered wild salmon bottled up at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon heard more than three hours of arguments Tuesday on an injunction request from The Humane Society of the United States. The group wants to keep sea lions alive while its suit against the killing goes through the court system.

Much of the hearing was devoted to interpretations about the number of salmon eaten by sea lions.

Sea lions have been eating fewer salmon in recent years, said Ralph Henry, a Humane Society lawyer.

Government and tribal lawyers said fishermen – unlike sea lions – take mostly hatchery fish, not protected by the Endangered Species Act, because they can identify them from a clipped fin.