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Feds Authorize Killing of Salmon-Eating Sea Lions

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fish. It's what's for dinner. 

And for some hungry sea lions, salmon is their fish of choice - and their fishy palate has spurred the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to move for a "kill sea lion" policy.

Officials in Oregon and Washington have been given the green light to snuff out 85 sea lions.

The reason for the brutal policy is that the sea lions are snacking on endangered salmon that are making their way up the Columbia River to spawn, reports Gawker. Every year, around 70-80 sea lions hang around the Bonneville Dam where they feast on salmon sashimi.

Only those sea lions found to be "salmon-eaters" will be subject to this policy - though the administration hasn't divulged how they are going to determine which sea lions are salmon-eaters. Will each sea lion get a day in court to prove up their innocence?

This is the second time that the NOAA has moved for killing the sea lions. The first time, the Humane Society won in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, forcing the NOAA to answer why it would not let the sea lions capture salmon but allow commercial fisherman to do so, reports Reuters.

The NOAA's response was that they could control the number of salmon that fisherman caught, but could not control the sea lions, according to Reuters. Darn, if only those sea lions could understand English...

"Sea lion predation represents only 2.4 percent of the salmon run this year," said Sharon Young, marine mammal issues field director for the Humane Society, to Reuters. So yes, the chilling policy to kill 80-some animals comes at a great benefit to the endangered salmon - a 2.4% increase.

In contrast to the endangered salmon, sea lions are actually fairly numerous along the West Coast, with a population of up to 240,000, reports The New York Times. Though the sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NOAA cites to their healthy numbers for why the "kill sea lion" policy won't affect the population.

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