California sea lions subject to euthanasia in Oregon
California sea lions observed eating endangered chinook salmon in Oregon will be removed permanently.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 18:39
Photo: Alan Vernon/Flickr
California sea lions have found plentiful food sources below the Bonneville Dam in Oregon; they feast on spring chinook salmon, an endangered species, as well as on steelhead.
As of Friday, May 13, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration re-authorized the euthanasia of the sea lions according to three criteria. One may be killed if between the dates of January 1 and May 31, 2011:
- The sea lion is seen below the Bonneville dam eating salmon or steelhead
- The sea lion is observed below the Bonneville Dam for more than five days
- The sea lion is observed after being hazed
To keep track of the different sea lions that are caught and branded by biologists, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has begun trapping the sea lions below the dam.
Apparently the four sea lions caught most recently were not eligible to be euthanized; there is a list of 78 California sea lions that are currently being tracked. If and when the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife does catch California sea lions which meet the three criteria to be euthanized, the sea lions must be held for 48 hours during which time they are offered to interested zoos and aquariums before they can be put down.
From 2008 to 2009, ten sea lions went to zoos or aquariums and since that time 27 sea lions have been euthanized. According to officials, this year shows the lowest turnout of California sea lions — about 50 have been observed thus far at the Bonneville Dam, so the impact on salmon should be lower than in past years. However, this year the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife will also be able to trap sea lions above the Bonneville Dam, as well as below, which may increase the number of euthanized California sea lions.
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