A federal agency has approved the continued killing of California sea lions that are eating salmon and steelhead near the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam.  

NOAA Fisheries announced  Wednesday it is allowing Oregon, Washington and Idaho to continue what the agency is calling the “lethal removal” of those sea lions until the middle of 2021.    

The states have removed 166 animals since 2008.   Sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. But the law allows the lethal removal of individual seals and sea lions that are known to be having a significant negative impact on threatened or endangered salmon or steelhead.  

Last year sea lions consumed nearly ten-thousand adult spring chinook salmon, according to NOAA Fisheries.