The Federal government has just passed a law allowing anglers in Washington and Oregon to kill sea lions because they are eating spring salmon at the Bonneville Dam. These fish travel to Columbia each year after spawning a new generation. Near 25% of the salmon that travel are enlisted in the Endangered Species Act, which gives a reason to protect them. The National and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service admits that this is a drastic measure to take and limit the amount of sea lions killed to 85 per year.
According to animal scientists, this account for getting rid of the sea lions is not justified. Sea lions and salmon have had a natural relationship for hundreds of years. Anglers are the reason for a high percentage of the salmon not making it to Columbia, while sea lions will deplete less than 3%. Farm hatcheries and migrating juveniles are the main reasons they have made it to the endangered list.
Farm hatcheries are an unnatural way to produce large amounts of fish for human consumption. They are altering the environment to reduce the need for fishing in the wild, but are actually doing the opposite. These farms build dams and pollute the waters, depleting the natural sources of fish. The construction of concrete dams and water pollution are endangering migrating salmon and the environment in Oregon and Washington. Killing sea lions is not going to fix the problem, it is just going to create a new one: dead sea lions on the banks of the rivers.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/yeomans/81133170, flickr.com/photos/mdove64/3034018646