Update: New law makes it easier to kill salmon-eating sea lions

In the Columbia River, up to 920 sea lions can be removed each year to protect fish.

 

The new law will allow ten times as many sea lions to be killed in the Columbia River compared to what is currently allowed.

BACKSTORY

Sea lions were once hunted almost to extinction, but the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act helped them rebound to around 300,000 today. Thousands swim the lower Columbia River up to Bonneville Dam, hunting spawning sturgeon, lamprey and threatened and endangered salmon. Nearly half of the spring chinook salmon run vanishes before even reaching the dam; biologists think the sea lions are the primary culprit.

The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission has hazed the federally protected mammals away from the Bonneville fish ladders for years, using noisy shells and non-lethal “seal bombs.” They’re allowed to kill the most persistent fish eaters, but only after going through a lengthy permitting process. Critics say sea lions are getting the blame for a decline caused by much larger problems, such as dams, habitat loss and invasive fish (“Sea lions feast on Columbia salmon,HCN, 8/17/2015).

FOLLOWUP

In late December, President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill making it easier to kill sea lions that prey on sensitive fish populations in the Columbia and some tributaries. The permits, issued to Washington, Oregon, Idaho and several tribal nations, are good for up to 5 years. The animals targeted must be individually identifiable, and must be killed humanely “by chemical methods.” Up to 920 sea lions can be euthanized each year, instead of the 92 currently allowed. State wildlife officials say that the bill should help prevent some salmon and steelhead runs from going extinct. But Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said it misses the point: “Conducting some farcical sea lion hunt while the salmon try to jump a hundred-foot-tall concrete barrier to reach their natural habitat is not my idea of sound environmental policy.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR AND BOOKKEEPER
    Posted: July 19, 2021 Application deadline: August 27 or until position is filled. Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking a fulltime Office Administrator...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Posted: July 15, 2021 Application deadline: August 21, 2021 or until position is filled Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking three full time...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT EDITOR
    High Country News (HCN) seeks an audience editor to attract and acquire new audiences and deepen engagement with them - in our newsletters, on our...
  • COMMUNITY MARKETER
    High Country News (HCN) is looking for a Community Marketer to build and strengthen relationships between HCN and other organizations and individuals, with the aim...
  • FINANCE & OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Job Announcement: Finance and Operations Manager Announcement date: July 16, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: August...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement: Development Director Announcement date: July 16, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: August 9, 2021...
  • HECHO POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • HECHO NEW MEXICO SENIOR FIELD COORDINATOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • IDAHO STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society is seeking a full time Idaho State Director who will preferably be based in Boise, Idaho. This position is part of our...
  • CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA PUPPIES
    Strong loyal companions. Ready to protect your family and property. Proven against wolves and grizzlies. Imported bloodlines. Well socialized.
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Alaska is dedicated to saving the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more than 30 years, TNC has...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, CLIMATE AND ENERGY PROGRAM
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING https://westernlaw.org/career-opportunity-climate-energy-staff-attorney/ ************************************************** Position Title: Climate and Energy Program Staff Attorney Reports to: Climate and Energy Program Director Location: Helena, Montana; other...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, WILDLANDS AND WILDLIFE PROGRAM
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING https://westernlaw.org/career-opportunity-wildlands-staff-attorney/ ************************************************** Position Title: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Staff Attorney Reports to: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Director Location: Portland or Eugene,...
  • DISCOUNT SOLAR PANELS
    New w/25 year warranty. Shipped anywhere in the lower 48. Minimum order of 10 units. Call, text or email for current prices. .50-.80/ watt
  • SWEET MOUNTAIN HOME
    3.8 acres in pine and fir forest on a year round creek. Custom home, 2x6 framing, radiant heat, wrap around decks and established berry patch....
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!