Judge: Program targeting sea lions can continue

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service did not err when it reauthorized a program targeting sea lions for death in the Pacific Northwest.

Judge Michael Simon said in a ruling issued Friday that the program intended to preserve endangered salmon by killing sea lions is within the bounds of the fisheries service.

“This case is about how Congress, NMFS, and the states have tried to balance the protection of sea lions with the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead,” Simon wrote.

The program was reauthorized last year, through June 2016.

The Humane Society of the United States sued, saying the program targeting sea lions is arbitrary. They say the animals consume, at most, 4 percent of the salmon coming through the Bonneville Dam. Commercial and sport fishers, by contrast, take nearly 17 percent, The Oregonian reported.

Simon said fishery managers can scale back fishing when runs are low but can’t do the same for sea lions.

The states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho backed the plan, part of an effort to keep alive five runs of salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act that pass Bonneville, the first dam they encounter on the Columbia River.

Under the re-authorization, the states are allowed to kill up to 92 of the animals a year, either by lethal injection or shooting them. They have to be identified as eating salmon and not deterred by hazing efforts.

Barring a successful appeal, the decision means the lethal-take program will resume when the seal lions return to Bonneville this spring. NMFS plans to assess the program again after 2016.

More in Local News

Agencies launch coordinated response to an opioid ‘emergency’

Health workers, law enforcement agencies and emergency managers are responding as they might to a disaster.

King County sheriff could face felony charge in groping case

A former deputy claims John Urquhart groped him. Renton police forwarded the case to the prosecutor.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Pair charged with first-degree robbery in marijuana theft

A man was shot in the head during a holdup that was supposed to net about an ounce of pot.

Puffy-coated robbery suspect arrested on Whidbey

The suspect apparently wore the same outfit in 2 robberies at the same place in less than 2 weeks.

Planning — and patience — can ease Thanksgiving travel

The Washington State Department of Transportation offers information to help guide planning.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Front Porch

JUST FOR YOUTH Fun with leftovers The week after Thanksgiving is always… Continue reading

Most Read