Judge: No reprieve for NW sea lions

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. - A federal judge says state governments can proceed with plans to kill up to 85 California sea lions a year for five years in the Columbia River at Bonneville Dam, where they gather annually to plunder the spring chinook salmon run.

The Humane Society of the United States went to court to block the killings, claiming among other things that the sea lion predation was relatively insignificant compared to threats such as dams, fishing and hungry birds.

A Humane Society official, Sharon Young, says the group will appeal.

Charles Hudson of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission said the decision validated the analysis that the federal agency NOAA Fisheries did in granting "airtight authority" for the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho to go ahead with sea lion removal.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman said in September that he had hoped to rule in a couple of weeks to give the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals time to decide the case before the spring salmon run and the return of the sea lions.

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