Sea Lions be Dammed

By on March 31, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Our team is still bracing itself and documenting the seal hunt on the ground in Canada and conveying to the world the absolute horror of this archaic slaughter.

But even as we try to cope with the slaughter of baby seals in this nursery—a mass killing abetted by the government of Canada—we cannot relent in any of our other work. You count on us to keep hundreds of balls in the air, including on other pinniped issues. Last week, we filed a lawsuit to block plans by our own federal government to kill or capture over five years as many as 425 sea lions living near the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, which divides Oregon from Washington.

The charge leveled against the sea lions is simple: fish-eating sea lions eat fish. It’s hard to imagine that that’s a capital crime, but there’s been a long-standing concern about salmon runs and finger-pointing galore, even though the salmon run that sea lions feed on is expected to be up this year by 200 percent. The fish do indeed have a hard time navigating the giant dams built to harvest hydropower, and now the sea lions are asked to pay the ultimate price for our manipulations and degradations of the natural world.

My colleague John Balzar, The HSUS’s senior vice president for communications, put the matter into perspective in a column in The Oregonian last week. Please take a moment to read it. John was the former Northwest bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, so he’s familiar with natural resource conflicts in Oregon and Washington and has as keen an eye as any observer of the region.

Humane Society International

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