No more free lunch

  • Sea lion illustration

  Sea lions that gorge on steelhead trout trying to swim around the locks in Seattle, Wash., may have to worry about getting eaten themselves. The Muckleshoot Indian tribe has asked the National Marine Fisheries Service for permission to harvest the meat, hides and teeth from sea lions if the agency targets them for execution, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The steelhead run, now close to extinction, has fallen dramatically from 3,000 just 10 years ago to only 70 fish last year. Half the loss each year is caused by sea lions that wait at the locks to feed on the easy prey. Since the tribe has traditionally hunted marine animals, a sea lion harvest is permitted by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. But the fisheries agency says it must first exhaust other options, including capturing and temporarily holding three or four of the most troublesome animals at an aquarium or zoo during the steelhead run. Fisheries spokesperson Brian Gorman, however, says animal-rights advocates object to the trapping and have sabotaged efforts in the past.

*Ross Freeman

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