Saving Oregon’s Sea Lions

March 5th, 2010 by Doll Stanley


IDA's Matt Rossell rallying the crowd.

IDA's Matt Rossell rallying the crowd.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has reported the first sea lion trap and kill of the season on the Columbia River. Named “Lionel” by students from Redland Elementary School in Portland, but known to wildlife agencies by the brand “C653,” the sea lion was trapped and killed by lethal injection on Wednesday. Sixty-four California sea lions are listed on the government’s kill authority letter and are at risk of being trapped or shot by wildlife officials. IDA is skeptical about the Oregon and Washington state wildlife agencies’ ability to correctly identify and humanely handle targeted sea lions.

Yesterday protesters from IDA and the Sea Lion Defense Brigade confronted wildlife officials responsible for the lethal removal of the protected sea lions, to voice concerns and ask questions about a plan that is misguided, has not met the criteria set forth in Section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, fails to accurately identify specific sea lions as required by law, and will do nothing to resolve issues that endanger salmon populations.

Fishing quotas for salmon on the Columbia River this year were raised to 16 percent from last year’s 13 percent, while sea lions at the Bonneville Dam are being killed for eating what will likely be only about one percent of the 2010 spring run. These wildlife agencies are not making sound, biology-based decisions regarding salmon recovery. And the agencies’ track record has been abysmal, with multiple incidents of malfunctioning traps and seven sea lions who have died unintentionally in state custody.