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
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • CONNECTIVITY SCIENCE COORDINATOR
    Position type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman preferred; remote negotiable Compensation: $48,000 - $52,000 Benefits: Major medical insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
    ArenaLife is looking for an Executive Assistant who wants to work in a fast-paced, exciting, and growing organization. We are looking for someone to support...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Mountain Lion Foundation is seeking an Executive Director. Please see our website for further information - mountainlion.org/job-openings
  • WASHINGTON DC REPRESENTATIVE
    Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Washington, DC Position Reports to: Program Director The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is seeking a Washington, DC Representative...
  • REGIONAL CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER
    Position Title: Regional Campaign Organizers (2 positions) Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Preferred Billings, MT; remote location within WORC's region (in or near Grand Junction...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Western Watersheds Project seeks a Tenth Circuit Staff Attorney to bring litigation in the interests of protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife, particularly focused...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]