Republican Sen. Jim Risch is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier for federal fishery managers to kill sea lions that could prey on salmon and steelhead. Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington has also signed on in support of the proposal.
Sea lions have been identified as one of the primary threats to the Northwest fish, which are the subject of an expensive and decades-long recovery plan.
The mammals have been known to wait at dams along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, snatching salmon from the water.
In a press release, Risch says that in the last five years, sea lions have eaten five times as much salmon as they have in the past.
But according to the Twin Falls Times News, the bills face opposition from the Humane Society and the Animal Welfare Institute. Sea lions are given some cover by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The proposal would allow regional tribes and Northwest states – including Idaho – to apply for permits to kill the sea lions. A companion bill is working its way through the House.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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