Biologists Say Sea Lions are Eating Too Many Salmon

Spokane Public Radio –

Biologists from Washington and Oregon today (Tuesday) gave a sobering assessment of the fate of salmon species that are being devoured in large numbers by California sea lions. The report came Tuesday at a meeting of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in Spokane.

California sea lions are officially protected as a federal endangered species, but biologists from both states say the population has rebounded. The animals can’t be killed without permission from the federal fisheries agency and the mammals have found a ready food source. Shawn Clements, a research scientist from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, say they’ve learned the best places to hang out until the fish arrive on their annual migration up the Columbia River.

“They’re smart animals. They’re social. So they transmit the behaviors and learn and share that this is a good place to come, so you get more and more animals over time,” Clements said. “The increase this year was primarily due to the depressed runs, so they probably took about the same number of fish, but proportionally, it was a lot more.”

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