WASHINGTON, D.C.—Federal officials are seeking public comment on an application for the legal take of California sea lions in the Columbia River. The application also includes a request to lethally take Stellar sea lions. Oregon’s Department Fish and Wildlife joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and other agencies in filing a request to be allowed to kill California and Stellar sea lions in the Columbia River, as an attempt to preserve the spawning habitat of threatened or endangered salmon in the area.
“This action is intended to reduce or eliminate sea lion predation on the fishery stocks that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) public notice stated.
The NOAA application calls for a lethal taking of sea lions in the Columbia River because the pinnipeds are harming the recovery of salmonid fishery stocks.
“Sea lion predation [in the Columbia River] … is having a significant negative impact on the recovery on the above-mentioned fishery stocks,” the NOAA notice for public comment stated. “The application [additionally] states that removal of sea lions is also intended to protect species of lamprey or sturgeon that may not be listed as endangered or threatened but are listed as a species of concern.”
Efforts to recover salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River have been underway for decades, according to NOAA staff.
Public comments on whether officials in Oregon and Washington should be allowed to conduct lethal takings of sea lions in the Columbia River basin will be accepted through Oct. 29.
Comments can be mailed physically to National Marine Fisheries Service, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, Oregon 97232, Attention: Protected Resources Division, NOAA-NMFS-2019-0073.
Concerned or interested parties could also submit comments online at bit.ly/2kGutYm.