Last week, the federal government permanently reversed its decision to exterminate sea lions caught hunting endangered salmon on the Columbia River.
As Care2′s Lauren W. reported last month, the original proposal would have granted the states of Washington and Oregon permission to kill up to 255 sea lions at the Bonneville Dam over the next three years in order to rebuild the salmon population. However, this plan was suspended after extensive campaigning from our non-profit partner The Humane Society of the United States and over 30,000 signatures from concerned members of the Care2 community.
“We’re delighted the agency has changed its mind and revoked the states’ authorization to kill hundreds of native sea lions for having the audacity to eat fish for dinner,” Humane Society lawyer Jonathan Lovvorn said in a statement.
While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reversal will protect the sea lions for the time being, it leaves the recovery of salmon and steelhead trout populations at risk.
According to Reuters, the states contend that California sea lions swim 140 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean to gorge on the endangered fish at the Bonneville Dam. The NOAA contends that the estimated number of salmon and steelhead eaten by California sea lions has risen steadily, peaking at 5,000 last year. Both fish species have been listed as endangered since the 1990′s.
However, the Humane Society maintains that human factors, such as commercial and recreational fishing and barriers posed by hydroelectric projects, are more harmful to the fish than hungry sea lions.
The NOAA said that it will consider future requests from the states to renew permission for euthanizing sea lions, and both states said they intended to file such applications.
Image Credit: Flickr - mikebaird