Sea lion kill bill picks up speed in US

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Legislation that would make it easier for fisheries managers to hunt sea lions that prey on salmon is underway.

The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote on the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Preservation Act sometime next week. The bills in Congress would allow the killing of sea lions to protect salmon runs according to the Lewiston Tribune.

U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) representing Northwest states issued a news release.

“Salmon consumption at Bonneville Dam is five times what it was five years ago, and threatened and endangered species of salmon are being damaged by sea lions in the Columbia River,” Risch said.

The sea lions are a target because of their huge appetite for threatened and endangered fish. They eat up so many winter steelhead at Willamette Falls, south of Portland, that biologists say there’s a 90 percent chance the fish run will go extinct.

The new version of the Senate bill, introduced Thursday, removes a provision that would have allowed Northwest states and American Indian tribes to be issued sea lion kill permits without going through the full National Environmental Policy Act process.