The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that state officials from Oregon, Washington and Idaho are allowed to remove or kill predatory sea lions that are impacting salmon runs.
The Sept. 27 ruling came after the United States Humane Society challenged the practice of eliminating sea lions that were eating salmon around Bonneville Dam.
The National Marine Fisheries Service provided the court with a 13-page report describing the extent of the sea lions' contribution to the decline of salmon listed in the Endangered Species Act. The court agreed with the report, and agreed with NMFS's plan to reassess the situation in five years to determine whether lethal removal of sea lions should continue.
Biologists estimate that California sea lions have eaten from 1.5 percent to 4 percent of the returning adult salmon at Bonneville Dam each spring.
The elimination of sea lions applies only to California sea lions that are documented as targeting spring Chinook or steelhead.
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