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It's now legal to kill sea lions that are threatening salmon in the Pacific Northwest

(CNN)Animal control in the western United States just got more extreme. A new law allows people to kill sea lions that have been devouring the region's endangered salmon and steelhead -- as long as they first get a permit.

The law, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last month, changes the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to lift protections on California sea lions in the Columbia River, the Willamette River and their tributaries.

Government authorities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho already had authorization to kill a limited number of threatening sea lions, according to according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"Many salmon and steelhead populations in the Northwest are threatened and endangered, and the last few years have been particularly hard as ocean conditions have turned and fewer salmon have returned to the rivers," NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein told CNN.

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