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WA/OR: 20 sea lions shot to death along coasts of Washington and Oregon

June 5, 2012

By Kim Murphy, LATimes.com

SEATTLE--The bodies of about 20 sea lions have been discovered along the coasts of Oregon and Washington over the last two months, most of them shot to death.
 
Who did it? No one knows, but there are a few guesses as to why—the playful but voracious creatures have long been blamed by fishermen and others for lunching on prized stocks of salmon and sturgeon, which swim along the Pacific Coast and up the Columbia River.
 
“I can say that a significant number of sea lions appear to be targeted by people shooting them. This has been happening for the last several months now, even though these are all protected species by federal law,” Jim Rice, Oregon coast coordinator for the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, after the latest two dead sea lions were discovered near the mouth of the Columbia River.
 
...
 
...  shooting of the animals (is) a violation of federal law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Brian Gorman, spokesman for the fisheries service, said in an interview.
 
Though most of the animals discovered dead along the coast have been California sea lions, some have been Steller sea lions, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
 
 
Dalin D’Alessandro, a research assistant with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network who first described the deaths to the Oregonian, told the newspaper that all of the roughly 20 carcasses found so far bore evidence of either gunshot wounds or trauma probably caused by gunshots. A Steller sea lion found this week had three bullets in the neck, and a California sea lion also found this week was shot in the mid-back, she said.
 
In their lawsuit, attorneys for the Humane Society noted that sea lions consumed just over 1% of the salmon run in 2011, while fishermen harvested 12% of the same fish—another reason the shootings are illegal, Gorman said.

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