Cal­i­for­nia sea li­ons killed to pro­tect mi­grat­ing fish

Kuwait Times - - Health & Technology -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Au­thor­i­ties in the western US state of Ore­gon have eu­th­a­nized four sea li­ons in the last month as part of a pro­gram to pro­tect salmon runs and steel­head trout that are at risk of go­ing ex­tinct. A spokesman for the state’s Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife said the lethal re­movals of the Cal­i­for­nia sea li­ons be­gan in mid-De­cem­ber and would con­tinue through May.

Rick Swart said the killings were nec­es­sary to save mi­grat­ing steel­head that have been rav­aged by the sea li­ons in re­cent years as they swim up­stream from the ocean to spawn. “Our sci­en­tists be­lieve that if these sea li­ons aren’t re­moved, that run of steel­head could go ex­tinct any­time,” Swart said. He said salmon were also threat­ened by the sea mam­mals, whose pop­u­la­tion has ex­ploded since the Ma­rine Mam­mal Pro­tec­tion Act was passed in 1972.

“What’s go­ing on here is we have a run of wild na­tive Ore­gon steel­head and they are mov­ing right now from the ocean up­stream to spawn,” Rick Swart said. “And when they get to Wil­lamette Falls in Ore­gon, in down­town Port­land, they come up against the wa­ter­fall and a dam and it takes them a while to get across that.” He said that as the fish gather in a big school while pre­par­ing to go over the wa­ter­fall and dam, the sea li­ons swim in and feast on the trout.

“Two years ago, the sea li­ons de­stroyed 25 per­cent of that wild steel­head run,” Swart added. “They killed about 512 fish and that rep­re­sented about one fourth of all the fish that we had left.” —AFP

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