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article imageOp-Ed: Death comes to California sea lions who eat salmon

By KJ Mullins     May 15, 2011 in Environment
Sea lions in the United States are facing the 'death penalty' for doing what comes naturally, eating salmon just like humans do.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has authorized officials in Oregon and Washington to “lethally remove” a group of the animals.
The sea lions at risk live just below the Bonneville Dam. They eat salmon that migrate upriver to spawn. Unfortunately for the sea lions those salmon have been deemed endangered. The states will be allowed to kill up to 85 sea lions a year as long as they are known to have eaten salmon.
This is the second time that the killing order has been approved. In 2008 the Human Society of the United States fought the first authorization winning a ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling made it so the NOAA must explain why the sea lions who were doing what is part of nature should be punished while fishermen were allowed to catch salmon.
Sadly for the sea lions they don't vote. The fact that California sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act doesn't seem to matter. Salmon is big money so it appears the fishermen, who can vote have the edge.
California sea lions
are used for entertainment value because they are intelligent animals that can be trained. They, like humans, like sandy beaches and stay close to the water's edge on sunny days. They also like to eat what humans do, mainly squid and fish. Salmon is one of the fish species that they enjoy.
The New York Times reports:
“This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover,” William W. Stelle Jr., the Northwest regional administrator for N.O.A.A.’s Fisheries Service, said in a statement.
Federal engineers had tried to move the animals in the past using firecrackers, loud noise and rubber bullets. The seal lions remained, sticking to their natural habitat.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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