Oregon gets OK to kill sea lions at Willamette Falls

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon wildlife managers on Thursday received federal approval to trap and kill California sea lions that eat protected fish. The National Marine Fisheries Service approved the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's request to trap and euthanize up to 93 animals a year on the lower Willamette River.

With their numbers growing, the sea lions are venturing ever farther inland from the Pacific Ocean, and state officials say they're intercepting fish on their way to spawning grounds above Willamette Falls south of Portland.

Background: State seeks permit to remove, kill sea lions at Willamette Falls

Removing them will help save threatened winter steelhead and spring chinook salmon, state officials said. Analyses show that sea lions ate about one-fourth of the steelhead run last year and about 7 to 9 percent of the spring chinook salmon, officials said.

"The unfortunate reality is that, if we want to prevent extinction of the steelhead and Chinook, we will have to lethally remove sea lions at this location," Shaun Clements, a policy analyst for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a statement.

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