sea lions

Oregon Seeks Permits to Euthanize Fish-Eating Sea Lions at Willamette Falls

Wildlife officials in Oregon are trying to procure permits that will allow them to remove sea lions by lethal means.

Sea lions in the state of Oregon have eaten an estimated 20-25 percent of all the wild winter steelhead returning to enter the fish ladders at Willamette Falls.

Deputy Fish Chief of Inland Fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bruce Macintosh was beside himself when he said,

"That's off the charts. It's been an issue for at least five years, but we've reached the point recently where it's become a crisis."

Now officials are looking into taking lethal steps to insure the fishery against the marauding, but wild sea lions. When you see the short video of what happens to one salmon fisherman you'll see just what they are up against on the Pacific coast.

"(Willamette Falls) is a predator trap, they've got them right where they want them and can just kind of hone in. Under the current rules, we can do a variety of hazing methods, but it hasn't had much of an impact," said Macintosh.

Five years ago, both Washington and Oregon sought to remove sea lions, and in 2016, 54 animals were caught and euthanized. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service will have to make the final decision.

While the Humane Society of the United States is opposed to the idea of culling the sea lions, they are right about one thing said Sharon Young, Marine Issues Field Director for the organization:

"What troubles us the most about killing sea lions is that they're using it as a distraction from the real problems facing the fish. They're not adequately addressing the real problems, which is dams, habitat loss, over-fishing and ocean conditions."

It is also noted that any captured sea lions are first offered to marine parks and zoos before any lethal action is taken. After that the problem of the sea lion feast is gaining exponentially as more and more of the animals have been showing in the area with no end in sight.

Cover photo via ODFW/Facebook