A federal advisory group Monday recommended Washington and Oregon kill up to 85 California sea lions at the Bonneville Dam to protect salmon and steelhead spring runs. Several members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sea lion task force did not support the lethal removal recommendation.
NOAA fisheries service biologist Garth Griffin says previously states have removed 37 California sea lions over a three-year period. He says if states could logistically take 85 sea lions per year, there would be a dramatic drop in predation.
“It’s an authorization that we feel comfortable would have no impact on the population structure of California sea lions,” Garth says.
The number of California sea lions feeding at the Bonneville Dam has decreased in 2011 (PDF). The Army Corps of Engineers attributes the drop to previous California sea lion takes.
NOAA has authorized removing California sea lions from the Columbia River since 2008. The Humane Society of the United States challenged that policy in court.
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