Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


What steps have been taken to deter sea lions from preying on salmon?

Each spring since 2005, boat-based "hazing" teams from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission have attempted to drive sea lions away from salmon and steelhead congregating below Bonneville Dam. Using "seal bombs" (underwater firecrackers), rubber buckshot and other non-lethal measures, those crews have worked with USDA Wildlife Services hazing teams and the Army Corps of Engineers to move sea lions away from fish gathered below the dam. While hazing often interrupts their feeding, California sea lions usually return to the area within a few hours after the hazing teams depart.

In March 2008, NOAA-Fisheries authorized Washington, Oregon and Idaho to remove individual California sea lions documented as preying on salmon and steelhead below the dam. The five-year authorization, granted under Section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, allows the states to use lethal or nonlethal measures to remove California sea lions that 1) can be identified by markings, 2) have been hazed to discourage them from predation and 3) have been documented feeding on salmon and steelhead below the dam. Steller sea lions are not subject to removal by the states, because they are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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Last Updated
1st of May, 2012