First Sea Lion Killed in Controversial Cull; Media Banned

The first two sea lions were captured today in the joint Oregon and Washintgon sea lion killing program, with one being euthenized shortly after capture. The sea lions are being targeted because they eat salmon.


The animal was given a health exam when a veterenarian noticed a potentially contagious wound and decided to euthanize the it. Some captured animals may be placed in zoos or aquariums, but since very few such vacancies exist, many of the sea lions will be killed.

While fishermen take 12 percent of the endangered salmon run each year, it’s estimated that sea lions only eat between .4 and 4.2 percent. Media inquiries as to why commercial fishermen haven’t been forced to cut their take have essentially gone unanswered.

The Oregon and Washington Fish & Game Departments have also made it clear that the media is not welcome in the trapping areas, giving safety concerns as an excuse. Despite this, activists are attempting to document any sea lion kills by organizing a coastal watch.

If you live near the Bonneville Dam, you can contact In Defense of Animals at 503-249-9996 or the Sea Lion Defense Brigade at [email protected] to join the coordinated effort to document the killing for the public to see.

Oddly, while their Norther neighbors spend money to kill the same animals, California is offering a $2,500 reward for anyone who has information that leads to the conviction of those responsible for the shooting of five sea lions.

Photo Credit: mikebaird on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

10 thoughts on “First Sea Lion Killed in Controversial Cull; Media Banned”

  1. Alex,
    Thanks for your response.
    Stellar and California sea lions have inhabited the Pacific coast area for thousands of years, but were not seen moving up the Columbia River in significant numbers until the 1980s. They now live in the mouth of the Columbia river year-round, but have gradually moved up the river, appearing at and above the Bonneville dam only in recent years as their population has begun to exceed the natural carrying capacity of the coastal environment.


  2. Alex Felsinger


    As far as I know, sea lions have inhabited that area for thousands of years. I don’t know how they define native, but I believe they are.


  3. Hi there,
    I stumbled into this article via the report on the wolf killing in Alaska. I was surprised by the information, as I have always found my interactions with ODFW to be extremely reasonable and marked by thoughtful action on behalf of wildlife.
    I called ODFW to interrogate them about this situation and what I learned is this. They are not indiscriminately killing animals–this is not about “population reduction” like the Alaska wolf situation. Sea lions are ONLY being removed from one particular freshwater area where they are NOT native life. Several individual animals have taken up residence at the dam and are feasting on endangered salmon that use this specific travel route to move to their breeding grounds in several other states. Sea lions are not adapted to live in freshwater climates, but their population has rebounded so drastically (to over 300,000 individuals) that they are becoming an invasive species and doing damage to a species that IS endangered by historical (and contemporary) human activities and needs our protection.
    The two animals that have been euthanized were two particular individuals that were branded/tagged and tracked for over four years. They were animals that ODFW had attempted to trap and relocate several times–every time they’d beat the boat back to the dam. ODFW attempted non-lethal means of control for these individuals for years before they resorted to capture and killing.
    Both animals were originally intended to be taken and kept in a zoo or aquarium, ODFW has a list of institutions ready to take these animals, but neither was fit for transport because both were carrying a viral disease and the facilities did not want to bring sick animals in. One of the sea lions had extensive cancer.
    I asked why, if population control and salmon numbers was the issue, that commercial and sport fishing weren’t targeted? The answer is that the species they are protecting are already protected from commercial and sport fishing–salmon of these species cannot be taken at any time by human fisherman. That they are eaten in their native environments by sea lions isn’t the issue for ODFW–that the sea lions have moved into inappropriate freshwater areas and set up camp at the bottleneck where the salmon move to their breeding grounds is.

    I am as strong an advocate against “predator control” as anyone and the situation in Alaska absolutely disgusts me… but unless the sea lion situation changes or what I was told was a batch of blatant falsehoods, I’ll stand behind ODFW’s actions on this one.


  4. There’s seriously something wrong with these people. They haven’t got the right mind to do anything helpful of any situations

  5. Everything boils down to

    Fishermen are glad some sea lions will be killed. Yakama tribal fisher and councilwoman Fidelia Andy says predation on salmon has reached an unacceptable level.

    Andy: “The sea lions here on the Columbia River are causing destitution to us as tribal fishermen. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.

    We’d like to get that 4000 salmon that they’re taking.”

  6. Sounds like the Canadian Seal Slaughter.
    The Fishermen who club baby seals for a little extra pocket cash claim the same thing: that the seals are eating THEIR fish.

    The Japanese say the whales are eating THEIR fish.

    Seems the fish don’t belong to anybody but greedy fishermen who think they own the creatures of the sea; no matter they are in the world.

  7. Why can’t the public contact someone in OR. & WA. to STOP this sea lion slaughter! Surely industrial pollution and other other factors (such as pesticides and fertilizers from farming) bear more fault RE: the “decline in wild salmon’?! Perhaps the wild salmon have declined due to too much commercial fishing? I thought only Native Americans retained the ‘right’ to fish for wild salmon.

  8. First off i would like to thank fellow marine life and ocean conservation crusaders for doing their part in bringing awareness to the people. Many people are not aware of many of these attrocities that continue in certain places around the world still today in this day and age. If we continue to abuse our earths precious resources, our children or our childrens children lives will be affected deeply. The tuth in the matter is that the damage we are doing simply stated is irreversible.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top