Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


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

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Army Corp of Engineers and USDA Wildlife Services (WS) have worked together to use various non-lethal tools 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, CRITFC boat crews work with WS dam based teams to haze 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. The states' federal permit, which was renewed in 2016 for another five years, does not authorize removal of Steller sea lions.

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Last Updated
21st of March, 2017