Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Feds withdraw state authority to kill sea lions

Ecotrope | July 26, 2011 6:24 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:36 p.m.

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The feds have withdrawn their OK for states to kill fish-eating California sea lions at Bonneville Dam. But they say they may very well reinstate it as needed later.

The feds have withdrawn their OK for states to kill fish-eating California sea lions at Bonneville Dam. But they say they may very well reinstate it as needed later.

The lethal removal of salmon-gobbling sea lions at a Columbia River dam isn’t happening right now, but with litigation underway and Congress considering a rewrite of the laws, a federal agency has decided to  revoke the states’ authority to take out these marine mammals.

Don’t read too much, though, in the press release’s use of the term “permanent” to describe the authority it just removed; OPB’s Rob Manning just got off the phone with state officials who say they expect to have that authority reinstated next time they need it to keep the lions from scarfing down salmon, steelhead and sturgeon at Bonneville Dam.

A federal agency today informed Oregon and Washington it is permanently withdrawing their authority to lethally remove California sea lions at Bonneville Dam.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said no sea lions are present there now and likely won’t be until spring. The state of Oregon in May said it would suspend the practice.

This sanctioned killing of sea lions, which are a federally protected species, is a controversial method of  preventing them from eating threatened or endangered salmon and other fish in the Columbia River.

The lethal removal of sea lions is currently subject to litigation and the topic of proposed legislation in Congress.

Here are some earlier posts on California sea lions at Bonneville:

* November, 2010: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against lethal removal.

* January, 2011: NOAA responds to ruling.

* January: The issue moves to Congress.

* May: Wildlife groups sue to stop a new program allowing the lethal removal of sea lions.

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