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PORTLAND, Ore. –Federal authorities granted Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife permission to remove up to 93 sea lions a year on the lower Willamette River.
ODFW released information on the announcement Thursday.
According to the release, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved ODFW’s application to lethally remove the California sea lions that are present at Willamette Falls in order to help save winter steelhead and spring Chinook salmon from extinction.
Sea lions are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, but ODFW applied for authorization to remove the California sea lions at the falls in October 2017 after their analyses showed that the sea lions had killed 25 percent of the steelhead run in 2017 and that there was an almost 90 percent probability that one of the upper Willamette steelhead runs would go extinct.
There is a provision in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows for a limited number of sea lions to be killed if they are having a negative impact on a protected fish species.
“This is good news for the native runs of salmon and steelhead in the Willamette River,” said Dr. Shaun Clements, ODFW policy analyst. “Before this decision, the state’s hands were tied as far as limiting sea lion predation on the Willamette River. We did put several years’ effort into non-lethal deterrence, none of which worked. The unfortunate reality is that, if we want to prevent extinction of the steelhead and Chinook, we will have to lethally remove sea lions at this location.”
ODFW is still concerned about the recent influx of the much larger steller sea lions in the Willamette basin and their impact on the white sturgeon population. The provision allowing the state to lethally remove California sea lions does not apply to the steller sea lion.
More info and Video at KATU News Channel 2: https://katu.com/news/local/federal-aut ... laLKiJTkro
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