19 May 2010, 11:57pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

Endangered Sea Lions Munch Endangered Salmon

At Bonneville Dam, the sea lions continue to munch endangered salmon, despite hazing — and a lethal injection program

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian May 13, 2010 [here]

BONNEVILLE DAM — Despite a flurry of shotgun-fired firecrackers, rubber buckshot and lethal injections that have killed 10 California sea lions this year, the amount of salmon eaten by sea lions at the first dam along the Columbia River is approaching record levels.

That’s the word from Robert Stansell, a fish biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who has monitored the sea lion’s often surprising behavior since he started at Bonneville in 1982.

“These animals do learn over time,” Stansell says. “Every time I think I know something, the next year they throw me a curveball.”

The lethal-take program, requested by Oregon, Washington and Idaho, is the first in the nation to kill marine mammals to save threatened or endangered salmon and steelhead since Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972. The Columbia is home to a multibillion-dollar salmon restoration effort.

But it’s not easy to rebalance nature at the base of a mammoth hydropower dam, even with observers on the dam from dawn to dusk to track the sea lion dietary preferences, shotgun-armed hazers on boats and along the dam, and four sea lion traps on shore below the dam’s north powerhouse.

Salmon eaten by California sea lions at the hydropower dam — 140 miles upstream but a prime spot for catching salmon before they swim up the fish ladders — are down this year. But the 73 spotted so far are up from last year and newcomers have spiked, signs opportunistic colleagues may be replacing animals trapped and killed at the dam. … [more]

22 May 2010, 9:22pm
by inde

Looks like the program is not working. The whole point of removing the sea lions has been to reduce the number of salmon eaten at the dam. But, the numbers clearly show that sea lions have consumed about the same amount of salmon (3,000-5,000) every year - regardless of the size of the run. It works out to be between 2%-4% every year. AND as sea lions are killed, others come up to take their place. The ESA predicted this was going to happen, but I guess the states thought that appeasing the angry and hysterical fishermen was more important than finding a better use for $800,000 /year on a program that is not yielding the results it was supposed to.

22 May 2010, 10:22pm
by Mike

Killer whales in the Columbia River now, too [here].



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