Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 30, 2008
Now, I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks (or flippers) since my earlier report this month over the controversy surrounding the sea lions of the Columbia River dam. You’ll remember how the National Marine Fisheries Service wanted to trap or kill 85 sea lions annually because of their voracious appetite for salmon? Well, the Humane Society sought an emergency order to contest this federal authority and I’m happy to report they won. Sort of.
Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted the emergency order, saying: “The lethal taking of California sea lions is, by definition, irreparable. This logic also applies to the salmon consumed by the sea lions.” The court said the reprieve would only apply to the spring chinook run and that it hoped the case would be resolved by next year. The federal authorization recommended an annual take of about 30 sea lions. A full appeals court is scheduled for May 8th in Pasadena.
The Fisheries Service estimates the sea lions “eat up to about 4.2 percent of the salmon as they pass through the dam’s fish ladders en route to spawning grounds upriver”. Brian Gorman, a fisheries service spokesman in Seattle said: “It’s too bad this thing is being held up. We’re seeing 50 to 100 adult salmon eaten every single day at Bonneville.” Trapping would begin as early as Thursday with the sea lions going to zoos or marine parks. A Humane Society spokesperson Sharon Young said that while the group remains opposed to trapping, they are happy that no animals will be killed.
As am I. Sea lions are predators and salmon are prey. This is the way nature intended it. Get used to it.