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Judge Rules Sea Lions Can Be Killed By State

A Portland judge said Wednesday the Northwest states can kill hungry sea lions on the Columbia River. The animals eat salmon as the fish try to pass Bonneville Dam each spring.

Judge Michael Mosman’s ruling means Washington, Oregon and Idaho can shoot or remove up to 85 sea lions next year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the animals eat three thousand salmon annually.

Mosman denied an attempt by the Humane Society of the United States to stop the killings. The group’s Sharon Young says fisheries managers are using the sea lions as scapegoats.

Sharon Young: “The significant problems that are facing the fish are habitat issues, conflicts with hatchery-reared fish and fishery management issues and this doesn’t address any of those. In fact, it simply distracts attention from them by making it look like you’re doing something to help the fish when you’re probably not doing much of anything at all.”

Young says the Humane Society will appeal Mosman’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Rick Hargrave says there are no plans yet for a sea lion hunt.