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March 21, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Feds Target Salmon-Eating Sea Lions

From the Los Angeles Times:

A federal agency has authorized the killing of some California sea lions that prey on migrating salmon and steelhead at the base of Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

The lethal removal is limited to sea lions deemed to have a significant effect on the decline or recovery of federally protected salmon and steelhead stocks . . . .

Sea lions are protected under the 1972 Marine Mammals Protection Act, and the allowable kill would be limited to about 85 animals.

The ruling, scheduled to be released Tuesday, identifies about 60 sea lions "authorized for immediate removal."

Seem like a good policy to you? Or should the feds be removing hydroelectric dams instead of killing sea lions, as opponents suggest?



How about we remove the dams AND kill some sea lions?

I don't fish the west coast, even though I live here, because I can't keep up with the crazy regs. But every fisherman I know complains constantly about the impact of the huge population of sea lions on fishing. When you have a situation like at Bonneville, where the fish are concentrated and the sea lions are making a feast out of it... well, it only makes sense to do something about the predation... especially given the fact that salmon stocks are dangerously low right now.


i've lived on the west coast and i say kill em, kill em all. i've watched them swim up to the locks and just devour steelheads and sockeyes. they are vermin.


Hopefully there is a back up plan to help the salmon/steelhead stocks rebound during the 11 years of PETA/HSUS litigation against the control plan!
I have no problem with reducing the sea lion, and other marine mammal populations as necessary to balance important fish stocks. The reality of such a plans is that they will be challenged again and again, in courts and the media, as such the costs rise significantly!

The other suggestion, removal of the hydroelectric dams is ludicrous in a time when more and more people demand more and more power! The water reserved behind these dams is also ever more necessary.

One wonders if a third solution will emerge; perhaps enlarging the entry to the fish ladders reducing the concentration of migrating species waiting to ascend. Perhaps some nonlethal way of keeping the sea lions away from the tail races where the fish are so accessable. Perhaps even netting and transporting stocks of breeders past the obstacles and further up the rivers.

Just my $.02 worth.


I was born and raised in Seattle WA (now live in Iowa) and watched sea lions many many times in my life. They are practically a nuisance animal. I wouldn't want to kill them all but there are certain ones that just don't learn. Google Herschel the Sea Lion to see one candidate!

The people that support removing the damns and locks wont be satisfied until all human progress is turned back 200 years.


Love the steelhead and Salmon fishing, and the further North you go in Cali, the better the fish. When you get into the Klamath area WOW !! the fight of your life, but the rewards are great.

Anytime humans mess with the natural ecology of an area, watch out. The problem of low populations just didn't start yesterday, or begin with sea lions. Poaching, illegal fishing, and pollution do much more harm, and there is plenty of evidence.

Are we going to exterminate the poachers and polluters ????

The solution is not to kill off the predators, the answer is to use the natural resources that we have with logic, and science. A sea lion eating his fill is not the problem.

Funny how these animals have survived so long in thier natural habitats, and now that a few anglers are not cathing the limit, we freak out.

There's a better way !!!! but we have to think. This reminds me of the seal hunt in Canada, any views on that ?? why they call themselves hunters is beyond me, as far as I'm concerned they are not even in the same stratosphere.



The sealion population is at a historical high on the westcoast. The popualation is not managed at all they are only allowed to increase in number allowing the issue that we now have. They are not afraid of Humans at all. I have had a 40lb plus Chinook ripped from my line by a Sea Lion.

They only eat the soft middle part of the salman discarding the rest I have witnessed this over and over again.

They are a problem that has taken too long to address killing them is the only way. They have trapped and moved them to California and within two weeks are back with friends to do even more damage to the Salmon runs.

As far as PETA goes why are the sealions more important then the salmon??



I respect you opinion and obviously this matter is of concern to you. But dude.... I've been fishing Salmon up and down Cali for years and never has a lion brushed up on me. Where are you fishing ??

I've had cubs roll up and get curious. I'm just saying we are to quick to pull the trigger. For that matter I've had pelicans rip my sea bass off of my line, hey it's part of the chase.



Nehalem Bay, and the Lower Columbia in both places I have had this happen to me.

Both Man and the wild animals need to respect each other. The Indian tribes here used to hunt the Sea Lions and that gave them a healthy fear of Man. We have to Manage all of our wildlife deer, elk, cougars and waterfowl the same way that it is necessary for African countires to crop the Elephant herds. As a top tier predator SeaLions need to be controlled just as stringently.

We not quick to pull the trigger this has been going on for the last 20 years at a minimum.

I lived in Northern California for five years and the Sea Lion problem is not the same as it is here.

Abe Truman

I think re-designing dams and (dare I say) curbing commercial fishing is the answer. Not killing sea lions. It might be annoying to see the sea lions eating salmon, but hey, they've always been eating salmon. This is part of the nature of this region. They've been co-evolving with salmon for thousands of years.

I read above, someone said that sea lions are at a "historical high" on the river. This is simply incorrect. Not at all true. When Lewis and Clark came to this region, there were twenty million salmon on the river, and there were at least 5 times the number of sea lions. Also, there was a bottleneck of salmon at Celilo falls, which is where the sea lions swam up and ate them. Still, there were more than a hundred times the number of salmon on the river then as there are now.

Clearly, sea lions are not the problem.

I worry when we think that taking out a natural predator is the way to help the situation with the salmon. I care too much about salmon, and too much about this region, to let that kind of reasoning pass. I want to see a real solution, that will really help the salmon. If there were twenty million salmon, and 5 times as many sea lions, at the beginning of the 1800s, then obviously it can't be sea lions causing this catastrophe.

(The reason you might think sea lions are "at an all time high" is that they are beginning to recover their numbers now, after the killing of sea lions was halted back in the 1970s. Before that, they had been hunted almost to extinction. So it's true that there are more sea lions now that any of us has ever seen before on the river, but there are far fewer than have historically existed here, with the salmon.)


Since the natural balance has been taken out of the equation what is your solution??????????


Sea lions eating fish in a natural setting (Celio Falls) is one thing but the situation at Bonneville Dam is another. I lived in Washington when Hershell was gorging at the Ballard Locks. I think they finally killed him after trying everything possible including relocation I think.
Go to the mouth of the Klamath River and you'll find out what happens when you catch a salmon or steelhead with seal lions present.
I say kill all the seal lions we can at Bonneville Dam. The sea lions are no longer threatened but we sure know that is not true of the salmon. Just my opinion.


I believe that, if you provide the proper habitat for a game species, you needn't worry about predation. If you destroy the habitat for a game species, no matter what you do to the predation, you still won't have that game. Make sense?


I don't see how removing only 85 animals is going to make a vast difference either way. I don't know anything about salmon fishing or sea lions, so it really wouldn't be fair for me to throw in with either side!



I don't see how removing only 85 animals is going to make a vast difference either way. I don't know anything about salmon fishing or sea lions, so it really wouldn't be fair for me to throw in with either side!


Blue Ox

Bring in some white sharks or some killer whales.
Then your problem with pesky sea lions will end real quick.

Matt Mallery

I don't have a problem killing a few sea lions as long as the meat is used. Naive Americans traditionally hunted them, so maybe giving some natives a few permits might be a good idea. I think Tom's idea of "kill 'em all" is of course ridiculous.


Hey Ox, I like your idea but I wonder how you move great white sharks and orcas? I think that they must already be there. If not, why not a hunting season. Better yet, find out why the numbers are so low. I think its the dams, but I really don't know.


You can kill only 85 animals but come breed'n time it wont matter. The seals will have babies and the population will grow again.



Good idea, but you can't hunt the seals cause they're protected by the marine mammals protection act.



I just forgot about the act. I knew it was in place. What I should have asked is, why is something like that even legislated? That's an ecology problem that should be handled by professional biologists, not politicians. I believe that the root of the problem is habitat. If spawning habitat is the problem, that must be addressed. Are the fish ladders working? Do we need more of them? If the fish aren't reproducing, blaming sea lions is like putting a band aid on a brain tumor. If its a temporary problem that caused a shorfall in salmon production for ayear or two, then maybe hunting would be the answer.


People are pretty quick to say "kill the sea lions" yet nobody ever say squat about pursuing poachers, polluters, land developers or god forbid limit the amount of commercial fishing of salmon. Sea Lions are just trying to eat to live and I can't blame them for that. A sea lion isn't going to make salmon extinct or endangered but all the aforementioned people can. If the sea lion species is too high in numbers and needs to be regulated for population control-hunt them. I just don't see the merit in hunting an animal for eating salmon when there are other very real factors to blame for low salmon populations.


You bring out a good point. Perhaps sea lions aren't the biggest problem, but rather as in most cases we humans can take the blame. (the bad people not all of us)


White Pine

They should look a little closer into this. Like stated above perhaps the seal lions aren't the greatest factor in play here.



I like the way you think. Biologists should handle this case. And I think the removal of sea lions would be a temporary fix cause come breed'n time the population will grow yet again. They may have jumped this case a little to soon.


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