New plan targets salmon-eating sea lions in Columbia River


A sea lion tosses a partially eaten salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam, where six more sea lions were trapped earlier in the day with one to be euthanized, in North Bonneville, Wash., Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Speaker of the Oregon House Dave Hunt says concerns about hungry sea lions devouring salmon in the Willamette River, which flows in to the Columbia River north of Portland, Ore., may lead to a request for permission to trap and euthanize them, as the state is doing at Bonneville Dam.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – More than 1,100 sea lions could be killed annually along a stretch of the Columbia River to boost faltering populations of salmon and steelhead.

Billions of dollars have been spent in Idaho, Oregon and Washington to save 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said Friday it’s taking public comments on the plan requested by the states and Native American tribes.

About 900 California sea lions and 250 Steller sea lions could be killed each year under the plan along a nearly 300-mile (480-kilometer) stretch of the river. Experts say sea lions there are exclusively preying on salmon and steelhead.

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