NOAA Fisheries is asking for public comment as it considers alternatives to deter California sea lions from eating imperiled salmon and steelhead that congregate below the Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River as they head upriver to spawn. The agency's draft environmental assessment issued today responds to requests in 2006 from Washington, Oregon and Idaho to kill predator sea lions under a provision of the marine mammal law. Of the four alternatives, NOAA is recommending the states use lethal removal only on individual sea lions that continue to eat salmon after deterrence methods are not successful. An estimated 30 nuisance animals would be killed annually. The agency is asking for public comment on its draft environmental assessment until Feb. 19. It is expected to make a final decision on the issue in late March.
Copies of the draft and how to comment can be found online.