PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife have placed a trap at The Dalles Marina on the Columbia River to try to capture California sea lions that have made their way above Bonneville Dam.
The new trap was built and deployed at the request of the four Columbia River Treaty Tribes who fish above Bonneville Dam. California Sea Lions above the dam have taken a toll on the tribal fisheries, and tribal fishing gear, that the tribes rely on for ceremonial and subsistence activities. The tribes have been reporting damage from the California Sea Lions for nearly three years.
“Tribal fishers have grown frustrated with the sea lions above Bonneville Dam and the damage they cause to their fishing gear,” said Paul Lumley, Executive Director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “We are happy that something is being done to address the situation and remove the animals that have become stuck in the Bonneville Pool and confined by Bonneville Dam.”
At least three sea lions have been seen in the area of the marina. Once trapped, each animal would be removed from The Dalles area and later individually examined for brands or natural markings. These markings would determine if they are on the list for removal. Unknown animals that are not marked would be branded and released into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.
Marked animals on the removal list would undergo a health assessment and, if found healthy and meeting a series of health criteria, could be considered for transfer to the Queens Zoo in New York. All marked animals on the removal list are subject to possible euthanasia.
The trapping efforts above Bonneville Dam are authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and are a part of the states’ efforts to protect threatened and endangered fish populations from the growing number of California sea lions in the Columbia River.