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California sea lions

SF 3rd-graders fight against sea lion killings

One third-grade class at San Francisco’s Lafayette Elementary School wasn’t going to let another California sea lion get shot without its voice being heard.

In the past two weeks, students in Angela Casey’s class have created and launched a political campaign to stop the governors of Oregon and Washington from allowing any more sea lion deaths at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. 

Over the past several weeks, Oregon and Washington state officials have captured and euthanized California sea lions seen eating salmon at the Columbia River dam.

The two states, along with Idaho, have been granted exemption from the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, allowing officials to kill the sea lions. The officials argue that the animals are having a “significant negative impact” on wild, endangered salmon populations.

 

Since May 4, 10 California sea lions have been trapped, nine killed and one shipped to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

The Lafayette Elementary students have caught the attention of activists up and down the coast, who have arranged an Oregon tour for Casey.

The activist groups, which include the Washington-based Sea Shepherd and the Portland, Ore.-based Sea Lion Defense Brigade, will join her as she tries to hand deliver her students’ letters today to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.

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Chicago aquarium offers to take salmon-eating sea lion

As the tally of sea lion deaths at the Bonneville Dam in Washington state grows to four, happier news comes from Chicago, where the Shedd Aquarium has pledged to take the next sea lion caught eating salmon.

"It's what we all would prefer see happen," said Craig Bartlett, a Washington state wildlife official. "We'd rather see them find new homes." 

Over the past several weeks, Oregon and Washington state officials have captured and euthanized California sea lions seen eating salmon at the Columbia River dam.

The two states, along with Idaho, have been granted exemption from the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, allowing officials to kill the sea lions. The officials argue that the animals are having a “significant negative impact” on wild, endangered salmon populations.

Bartlett said the Shedd is seeking to replace a sea lion that died after developing genital cancer.

The Shedd Aquarium did not respond to requests for comment.

Bartlett said precancerous genital herpes has been found in many of the sea lions trapped at the dam. He added that the Shedd has certain conditions that must be met for the aquarium to accept a sea lion, including the animal's general health and size.

Bartlett said the salmon have been slow to move up the river this year, though state wildlife officials are expecting record-high runs.

A spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States said that since the federal government cleared the way for states to kill the sea lions in 2008, 10 have been taken off the “hit list” and transferred to aquariums or zoos. 

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State officials perplexed by sea lion killings

A third salmon-eating California sea lion was captured and killed yesterday at the Bonneville Dam in Washington.

Two sea lions were captured and chemically euthanized at the Columbia River dam by Washington state officials last week.

And while Oregon, Washington and federal wildlife officials say the killings are necessary to preserve endangered salmon populations, California officials expressed skepticism.

Citing predictions for record-high numbers of Chinook salmon this year along the Pacific coast, Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said his agency was "perplexed" by the killings.

“We know salmon is a huge part of the Oregon economy, but is eliminating a couple of sea lions really going to make a difference?” Hughan said.

Officials estimate that a California sea lion eats about seven salmon a day. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the two California sea lions were captured and then chemically euthanized last week after ignoring repeated hazing techniques, such as fireworks and non-lethal explosives.

A federal law requires that sea lions targeted for death must be individually identifiable, have been observed eating salmon for five days (even if those days occurred over several years) and have not responded to hazing.

Craig Bartlett, a spokesman for Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, said his agency and Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife sought permission to kill the protected marine mammals because of the states’ overriding concern for salmon.

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Ore. officials 'haze' Calif. salmon-eating sea lions

For the next 13 weeks, a migrant population of California sea lions will be the guests of honor at a daily fireworks display, bought and paid for by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Five days a week, from dawn until dusk, a small team of fish and wildlife employees will “haze” the visiting sea lions with loud fireworks in an attempt to keep them from eating salmon and steelhead at Willamette River fish ladders.

Salmon and steelhead are federally listed endangered species.

“Our purpose is not to harm the sea lions or move them off the river entirely,” Tom Murtagh, the Oregon fish biologist in charge of the project, said in a statement. “Our intent is to move these animals away from (endangered) fish that are congregating at the fish ladders waiting to swim upstream.”

California wildlife biologist Joe Cordaro seemed surprised by the tactic.

“Those are pretty smart creatures,” said Cordaro, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “I’d be surprised if they didn’t tune it out after the first few days.”

This will be the second annual sea-lion-fire-works-hazing event on the Willamette.

According to Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife website, the hazing operation is being conducted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is consistent with its policies.

Cordaro said the animals are unlikely to be harmed by the fireworks.

 

 

Filed under: Environment, Daily Report
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