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Ecology and salmon related articles

States Place Trap at Dalles Marina to Capture
California Sea Lions Above Bonneville Dam

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, April 19, 2013

The Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife have placed a trap at The Dalles Marina on the Columbia River to try to capture California sea lions that have made their way above Bonneville Dam.

The new trap was built and deployed at the request of four Columbia River treaty tribes who fish above Bonneville Dam. California sea lions above the dam have taken a toll on the tribal fisheries, and tribal fishing gear, that the tribes rely on for ceremonial activities and subsistence

The tribes -- the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama ---have been reporting damage from the California sea lions for nearly three years.

"Tribal fishers have grown frustrated with the sea lions above Bonneville Dam and the damage they cause to their fishing gear," said Paul Lumley, executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "We are happy that something is being done to address the situation and remove the animals that have become stuck in the Bonneville Pool and confined by Bonneville Dam."

Tribal fishers have this spring conducted fisheries under ceremonial permits for first salmon feasts. They will, potentially, in the coming weeks carry out commercial harvests, as well as for ceremonial purposes and subsistence.

At least three sea lions have been seen in the area of the marina. One is known to have been upstream of Bonneville for at least two years and two others at least one year. The only passage route for the big animals at the dam is through its navigation lock.

Once trapped, each animal would be removed from The Dalles area and individually examined for brands or natural markings. These markings would determine if they are on the list of animals identified for removal.

Unknown animals that are not marked would be branded and released into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam. Marked animals on the removal list would undergo a health assessment and, if found healthy and meeting a series of health criteria, could be considered for transfer to the Queens Zoo in New York, which has offered to take two animals.

All marked animals on the removal list are subject to euthanasia if they can't be placed in a zoo or aquarium.

The trapping efforts above Bonneville Dam are authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and are a part of the states' efforts to reduce predation threatened and endangered fish populations.

The states have in four of the past five springs operated traps below Bonneville, where California and Steller sea lions gather to feed on spawning salmon, steelhead, lamprey and other fish searching for the dam's fish ladders. The states were authorized under Section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to lethally remove California sea lions but not Stellers, which are also protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Hazing is conducted each year as non-lethal method of discouraging predation. USDA Wildlife Service agents on March 4 hazing animals from the dam itself, while CRITFC is leading this year's boat-based hazing effort.

States Place Trap at Dalles Marina to Capture California Sea Lions Above Bonneville Dam
Columbia Basin Bulletin, April 19, 2013

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