Authorities in the US state of Oregon have euthanised four sea lions in the last month as part of a program to protect salmon runs and steelhead trout that are at risk of going extinct. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said the lethal removals of the California sea lions began in mid-December and would continue through May.
Rick Swart said the killings were necessary to save migrating steelhead ravaged by the sea lions in recent years as they swim upstream from the ocean to spawn. “Our scientists believe that if these sea lions aren’t removed, that run of steelhead could go extinct anytime,” Swart said.
He said salmon were threatened by the sea mammals, whose population has exploded since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972. “What’s going on here is we have a run of wild native Oregon steelhead and they are moving right now from the ocean upstream to spawn,” Rick Swart said.