New plan targets salmon-eating sea lions in Columbia River

New plan targets salmon-eating sea lions in Columbia River

Columbia River salmon, steelhead and white sturgeon face serious threats from California and Stellar sea lions. Credit: 

US Army Corps of Engineers. Portland District

BOISE, Idaho — More than 1,100 sea lions could be killed annually along a stretch of the Columbia River to boost faltering populations of salmon and steelhead.

Billions of dollars have been spent in Idaho, Oregon and Washington to save 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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The National Marine Fisheries Service said Friday it's taking public comments on the plan requested by the states and Native American tribes.

About 900 California sea lions and 250 Steller sea lions could be killed each year under the plan along a nearly 300-mile (480-kilometer) stretch of the river.

Experts say sea lions there are exclusively preying on salmon and steelhead.

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