The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a measure allowing the lethal removal of California sea lions preying on salmon and other fish in the Columbia River.
The measure, authored by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was included in H.R. 2578, the “Conservation and Economic Growth Act.”
Hastings’ language allows the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and four Columbia River treaty tribes to obtain one-year permits from the Secretary of Commerce for the lethal removal of a limited number of sea lions preying on salmon, steelhead and other fish in the Columbia River and its tributaries. State and federal guidelines require that the lethal removal, when necessary to control aggressive sea lions, be done in the most humane way possible.
H.R. 2578 will move to the Senate for consideration.
“A handful of aggressive sea lions travel more than 200 miles up the Columbia River year after year to feast on endangered salmon at Bonneville Dam,” said Hastings. “Lawsuits filed by radical environmental groups have continued to undercut the ability of states to address this serious threat to both endangered and non-endangered fish. I am pleased that the House of Representatives acted today to help preserve this important cultural and economic resource that Pacific Northwest ratepayers pay millions of dollars a year to protect.”
Meanwhile, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust announced this week that they are offering a reward of $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting California sea lions and Steller sea lions.
According to media reports, multiple sea lions, most with gunshot wounds, have been discovered in the Pacific Northwest on beaches in southern Washington and northern Oregon this spring. The animals have been found near the mouth of the Columbia River.
“Whoever is responsible for this senseless and illegal cruelty must be brought to justice,” said Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks NOAA for investigating this case.”
Both species of sea lion are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Steller sea lions are further protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Investigators ask that anyone with information about this case contact the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration at 360-268-6239. Callers may remain anonymous.
Litigation by the HSUS has challenged issuance of a management program approved by NOAA Fisheries Service that allows the removal of California sea lions that prey on salmon below the lower Columbia’s Bonneville Dam.
The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $2,500 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.
For more information see:
-- CBB, June 1, 2012, “Judge Denies Injunction Halting Sea Lion Lethal Removal; Harm Tilts Toward ESA Salmonid Stocks” http://www.cbbulletin.com/420966.aspx
-- CBB, June 8, 2012, “Federal Law Enforcement Officials Investigating Sea Lion Killings Near Columbia River’s Mouth” http://www.cbbulletin.com/421103.aspx