With the growing worry about sea lion predation – both California and steller – on Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin, three states and four Native American Tribes applied last week to NOAA Fisheries to lethally remove as many as 286 California and 130 steller sea lions from the river and some tributaries.
Economists tasked with quantifying the costs of suppressing invasive northern pike in Lake Roosevelt as well as the costs to the region if the pike escaped Grand Coulee Dam and migrated downstream, risking recovery of the Columbia River basin’s threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, indicated at a Northwest Power and Conservation Council meeting this week that available data is too sparse to adequately answer the questions.
A highly anticipated economics report on the impacts of northern pike in the Columbia River Basin will get a rollout next week before the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in Portland.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was permitted by NOAA Fisheries in November 2018 to remove and euthanize up to 93 California sea lions at Willamette Falls to protect wild runs of spring chinook and winter steelhead transiting the Falls. Both species are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Washington tribes and state government first detected the presence of northern pike in Lake Roosevelt, the huge reservoir created by Grand Coulee Dam, in 2007 and have ramped up suppression efforts in the lake since 2014.
The number of sea lions observed at Bonneville Dam in March was below the 10-year average and spring chinook salmon and steelhead, the fish sea lions like to feast on during the spring at the dam, were also far below average