Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 5, 2008
Upon hearing the term “restraining order”, one usually conjures up images of domestic disputes between the rich and famous. But what about a restraining order imposed by the Human Society of the United States on the National Marine Fisheries Services over the capturing or killing of sea lions who feast on salmon in a Columbia River dam?
Interesting, right? With more legs than a salacious E! special. (Not that seals or salmon have legs, but you know what I mean.)
In a motion filed in the U.S. District Court, the Humane Society wants a permanent injunction imposed on agents from the Fisheries Service to prevent them from taking sea lions from the Bonneville Dam. If the request is denied, they plan to seek a temporary restraining order instead.
The National Marine Fisheries Service are authorized to take up to 85 sea lions a year for five years from the dam. According to MSNBC, “the order encourages capturing the animals if possible and finding homes for them in aquariums and ocean theme parks but said they can be euthanized after 48 hours if no homes are found.” The Humane Society argues that homes are scarce and the bigger dangers for salmon come from birds and environmental dangers.
Sea lions have been protected under the Marine Animals Protection Act since 1972, during which time their populations have soared from 1,000 in the 1930s to 240,000 today. However, the killing of sea lions is possible if states get permission from the federal government. “Such permission has been granted only once before — in the 1990s for sea lions in the Ballard Locks in Puget Sound in Washington. Five animals were identified as offenders that drastically diminished a steelhead run that has yet to recover.”
In that instance, three were taken in by an aquatic park before they were killed (hopefully not part of the performance), while the fate of the other two has yet to be made public. (Hmm… it all sounds rather ominous).
We’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what unfolds in this slippery courtroom drama.