California sea lions killed to protect migrating fish

January 12, 2019
Sea lions bathe in the sun in California

Authorities in the western US state of Oregon have euthanized four sea lions in the last month as part of a program to protect salmon runs and steelhead trout that are at risk of going extinct.

A spokesman for the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife told AFP the lethal removals of the California sea lions began in mid-December and would continue through May.

Rick Swart said the killings were necessary to save migrating steelhead that have been ravaged by the sea lions in recent years as they swim upstream from the ocean to spawn.

"Our scientists believe that if these sea lions aren't removed, that run of steelhead could go extinct anytime," Swart said.

He said salmon were also threatened by the sea mammals, whose population has exploded since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972.

"What's going on here is we have a run of wild native Oregon steelhead and they are moving right now from the ocean upstream to spawn," Rick Swart said. "And when they get to Willamette Falls in Oregon, in downtown Portland, they come up against the waterfall and a dam and it takes them a while to get across that."

He said that as the fish gather in a big school while preparing to go over the waterfall and dam, the sea lions swim in and feast on the trout.

"Two years ago, the sea lions destroyed 25 percent of that wild steelhead run," Swart added. "They killed about 512 fish and that represented about one fourth of all the that we had left."

He said the state was authorized to kill up to 93 a year but he expected that no more than 40 would be removed this year.

Authorities in the past have used various non-lethal techniques, including or rubber buckshot, but the animals have adapted and learned how to avoid the threat.

Explore further: Sea lions feast on fragile fish in US Northwest survival war

Related Stories

India probes death of 12 endangered lions

September 21, 2018

Indian authorities Friday ordered a probe into the deaths of a dozen endangered wild Asiatic lions, half of them cubs, over the last 10 days, officials said.

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.