Oregon senators propose bill to combat sea lion predation
Both Oregon senators presented a joint piece of legislation on Tuesday, July 31, to combat sea lion predation of fish on Oregon's two largest rivers.
The Predation Reduction of Salmon (PRO Salmon) Act would address the issue of sea lions rapidly consuming endangered salmon on the Columbia River and at Willamette Falls, according to a press release from Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden who are co-sponsoring the bill.
The legislation also aims to promote tribal management of natural resources and ensure humane removal of sea lions.
Sea lions are harming the recovery of endangered fish species, as they eat an estimated 25 percent of certain salmon species during their annual runs.
The sea lions also prey on steelhead at Willamette Falls near Oregon City.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said winter steelhead could face extinction if the predation issue is not resolved.
Current efforts to manage predation, including hazing and non-lethal deterrence of sea lions, have not been effective. When ODFW captured two sea lions at Willamette Falls and transported them 230 miles away to Newport, the pair returned to the falls in less than a week.
The PRO Salmon Act would focus on areas where endangered salmon have been identified and give wildlife managers more flexibility to remove the sea lions from areas where salmon are most at-risk.