National Marine Fisheries Service agrees to consider sea lion removal request

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Posted by on February 26, 2007 at 21:43:16:

Due to a continued problem with sea lions consuming ESA-protected salmon at the Bonneville Dam, state representatives from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho had proposed a bill in the 109th Congress to receive permission to cull some of the problem sea lions (see Sublegals 12:13/03).

The bill, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act (HR-6241), requested permission for the permanent removal of certain persistent animals. The sea lions are currently protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

Although H.R. 6241 did not pass, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has now announced that it will consider the request as a measure to protect the listed salmon and steelhead populations from sea lion consumption, under the Endangered Species Act, in the Colombia River. NMFS has the authority under the MMPA to allow controlled removal of a small number of animals deemed to have a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonids that are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. NMFS will create a task force to address the proposal for sea lion removal.

NMFS is requesting public comment on: observations of sea lions (number, species and predation on salmonids) in the Columbia River above or below Bonneville Dam; information on areas where numbers of sea lions are concentrated in the lower Columbia River, including resting (haulout) sites and locations where sea lions have been repeatedly observed taking salmonids; and dates when sea lions have been observed in the river above Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam. Information should be sent to SeaLion.Predation@noaa.gov before 2 April. More information about the state proposal can be viewed at the Pacific Northwest NMFS office website at www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Seals-and-Sea-Lions/States-MMPA-Request.cfm.

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