US Allows Killing Of Hundreds Of Sea Lions To Save Endangered Fish

While in the last few decades, authorities have tried to use all types of less-lethal methods to deter the sea lions, such as traps, rubber bullets and explosives, none yielded any results.

India   |   17 Aug 2020 11:32 AM GMT
Writer : Reethu Ravi | Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Abhishek M
US Allows Killing Of Hundreds Of Sea Lions To Save Endangered Fish

Image Credits: Pixabay

In an effort to boost the survival of salmon and steelhead at risk of extinction, the United States authorities on Friday, August 14, gave approvals to wildlife managers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho to start killing hundreds of sea lions in the Columbia River basin.

The sea lions feed on migrating fish where they bottleneck at dams or where they go to tributaries to spawn.

"These are places where the fish are really vulnerable. We have to manage this so the fish can get through to spawn," Shaun Clements, senior policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

The programme has been in the works since the approval of a change in the Marine Mammal Protection Act by the Congress in 2018, which allowed sea lions to be killed to reduce their feeding on salmon and other species.

Under the new permit, the states and several Native American tribes can kill 540 California sea lions and 176 Steller sea lions in the next five years along a 180-mile (290-kilometer) stretch of the Columbia - from Portland to the McNary Dam upriver - and in several tributaries.

While the killing of California sea lions, which were determined to be problematic predators of salmon, was previously permitted, this is the first time the permission has been given to kill the much larger Steller sea lions.

For years, sea lions have posed a problem for wildlife officials due to conflicts between mammals protected under federal law and protected and valuable fish runs. To add to the problem, Columbia River salmon are also a key food source for the Pacific Northwest's endangered population of orcas. According to scientists, the orcas ware at a risk of extinction, if they don't get more sustenance.

While in the last few decades, authorities have tried to use all types of less-lethal methods to deter the sea lions, such as traps, rubber bullets and explosives, none yielded any results. The sea lions would return after days.

Under the changes in the Marine Mammal Protection Act, authorities can tranquilize, capture or trap any sea lions in the area, bring them to another location and give them a lethal injection. They are prohibited from shooting the mammals.

Meanwhile, Sharon Young, senior strategist for marine wildlife at the Humane Society, said that fishing, competition from hatchery fish and habitat loss are even severe issues that salmons face.

"Killing the sea lions isn't going to address any of that. It is only going to distract from what they aren't doing to address the real problems salmon are facing. You're killing sea lions for nothing," she said.

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Reethu Ravi

Reethu Ravi

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Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.

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