SALEM, Oregon – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has begun killing California sea lions at Willamette Falls. The state obtained a permit from the federal government to kill up to 93 sea lions a year at that location.
Studies show that the sea lions, who feed on steelhead voraciously, are in danger of driving the winter steelhead into extinction. The winter steelhead population is currently estimated to be below 500 fish. ODFW officials say they plan to kill about 40 to 50 sea lions this year.
Other methods were used before the federal permit was issued. For example, ODFW trapped sea lions and moved them to the Oregon coast. Within three days, they were back at Willamette Falls.
Biologists are trapping the sea lions in the same cages used to move them to the coast. They are then transported to a facility where they are chemically euthanized with a veterinarian supervising the process.
Congress passed a bill in December that makes it easier for states and tribes to kill sea lions. That measure has not yet taken effect.