The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said the sea lions at 20 to 25 percent of all returning steelhead this year. It’s a problem that they say really started about a decade ago. Department biologist Dr. Shaun Clements told KATU News that they are now considering an emergency permit to trap and euthanize the sea lions, and to make an addition to the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows the agency to trap, transport and euthanize sea lions near Willamette Falls and upriver of river-mile 112 on the Columbia River.
Bob Rees, Executive Director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, was interviewed for the story. Rees supports the state’s proposal to remove sea lions from the area.
“These fish have to cross one of three fish ladders that exist at Willamette Falls. The sea lions are known to actually enter the fish ladder itself and predate on the fish. If you’re not passing a significant number of fish passed this pinch point, there is no way the run will be able to sustain itself over decades.”