Western States Set to Kill Sea Lions Because They Eat Salmon


Apparently sea lions like salmon a little too much. People in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are threatened — they want all the tasty salmon for themselves.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an oversimplification. But I have to wonder — if salmon didn’t taste good, would people be going to such great lengths to prevent a natural predator-prey relationship between a sea mammal and a fish?

Fishermen are allowed to take 12 percent of the salmon run each year, while the US Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the sea lions only eat between .4 and 4.2 percent. If the salmon are a struggling endangered species, why exactly can’t we simply stop eating as much of it ourselves and leave the sea lions to their own business?

Some estimates show that birds eat more salmon than sea lions — will we start shooting them soon too?

This is the second time that the Humane Society of the United States has requested a stay on the plan to kill up to 425 sea lions and been rejected. Late last month, US District Court Judge Michael Mosman refused, and now a three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has also rejected HSUS’ pleas.

Wildlife authorities say they’ll be trapping animals and then administering lethal injections, unless they do not cooperate with the trapping, in which case they will be shot. The Humane Society of the United States sees the trap-and-euthanize talk as nothing but PR.

“The fact that they specifically requested permission to kill in the water tells me they may be saying pleasant things about lethal injection because it alarms the public to think they may be kayaking in the river and have a body float by, or taking a hike in a park and see a wounded sea lion by the side of the river,” said Sharon Young, the Humane Society’s field director of marine issues.

Overfishing and damming of rivers are the real culprits in the decline of the salmon population, but of course people look for something else to blame other than our own actions. Sea lions are the scapegoat this time.

HSUS awaits a second hearing in front of a different panel, although experts believe there’s little chance the organization will win.

Photo Credit: angela7dreams on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

5 thoughts on “Western States Set to Kill Sea Lions Because They Eat Salmon”

  1. The Marine Mammals Protection Act has caused an over abundance in sea lion numbers. They overrun the coast. There are just too many sea lions. I work in the Santa Barbara Channel and have seen as many as 200 sea lions on the landing of an offshore oil platform.

    What good do sea lions do? They compete with man and other marine life for food, eating not only salmon but also rockfish.

  2. sea lion defense brigade is a group out of portland that is currently looking for people to moniter the trapping sites. one at bonneville dam (40 miles east of portland) and in astoria (on the oregon coast). the government does not want people to see what’s going on. any photos or recordings collected could potentially be used as evidence in a lawsuit the humane society has against the govt. agencies involved. visit our website, contact us if you think you can help. thanks

  3. what a joke! man is to blame for salmon stocks depleting, that’s plain as day. instead of focusing on fish farms, overfishing, and improving stocks. this is the action they’re taking?! maybe stop eating the salmon until the stocks recover, would make more sense.

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