Wednesday April 12, 2023


Last week, KGW reported on video captured on the Columbia River near Hayden Island that showed a boater deliberately veering toward groups of sea lions, seemingly trying to hit or harass the creatures.

Many people were outraged at the video, though the boater also had their share of defenders.

That dichotomy mirrors the pinnipeds’ legal status. Sea lions are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act— making it illegal to harass, hunt or kill any marine mammals. But at the same time, Oregon wildlife officials have used exceptions in the law to kill hundreds of sea lions over the past few years.

While sea lion populations in the Pacific Northwest have soared in recent decades, salmon and steelhead numbers have not. And sea lions’ voracious appetite for salmon is the issue at hand.

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