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Critics challenge plan to kill sea lions – again


Sea lions aren't just a problem at Bonneville Dam anymore. For the second year, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials will be hazing sea lions with fireworks and a boat to keep them away from fish ladders where spring salmon and steelhead congregate on their way upstream.

Sea lions aren't just a problem at Bonneville Dam anymore. For the second year, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials will be hazing sea lions with fireworks and a boat to keep them away from fish ladders where spring salmon and steelhead congregate on their way upstream.

About a week after the feds OK’d a new plan to kill sea lions at Bonneville Dam, opponents with the Humane Society and Wild Fish Conservancy are taking them back to court to stop the killing.

One court already sided with the opponents and ordered the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to stop killing sea lions. NOAA officials said they would go back and revisit the plan to make sure it follows the law.

Opponents say the new plan – designed to kill the bad actors who are eating protected salmon and steelhead at the dam – is still illegal. The feds shouldn’t be punishing sea lions for declining salmon runs that are really caused by many other man-made problems, they say.

“Federal law allows the killing of sea lions only in very limited circumstances, when the agency proves they are having a significant negative impact on salmon,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for the Humane Society. “The National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to kill hundreds of native marine mammals to reduce salmon losses by a couple of percentage points, while simultaneously authorizing much larger  man-made sources of endangered salmon mortality, is both outrageous and patently illegal.”

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