Is the practice killing sea lions
Oregon Fish and Wildlife is answering claims that a 13 year program to study sea lion activity on the Columbia River has resulted in the death of one of the animals.
Jessica Sall with ODF&W says they brand sea lions near Astoria. "The animals are branded with a hot iron. This is the same process used to brand seals and sea lions for the past 50 years. It's the same process used to brand cattle."
But a Sea Shepherd representative says she saw one branded sea lion struggle, sink below the water and not re-surface. Sall explains what may have happened..."they regularly stay underwater for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, sometimes longer. During that time they can swim several hundred yards away and resurface well out of sight."
Sall says this monitoring is not part of the effort to keep sea lions from ravaging juvenile salmon runs.
The Sea Shepherd Dam Guardians will monitor the branding through May.
A portion of the Sea Shepherd news release from Tuesday, Mar 26 follows:
ASTORIA, Ore. — March 26, 2013 — In the aftermath of the traumatic capture and cruel branding of 38 sea lions by Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) at the Port of Astoria on Sunday, one sea lion has died and at least one animal remains in visible pain on the docks, reports Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Dam Guardians, who are on the ground along the Columbia River to document the horrors befalling these federally protected animals for the crime of eating salmon.
Starting at 9:50 this morning, Dam Guardians at the Port of Astoria noticed two sea lions in extreme distress following the brutal and painful branding by an ODFW worker on Sunday, March 24. One animal was observed on the pier, twitching and in excruciating pain. A second was on the river and completely incapacitated. The disabled animal was literally unable to keep his head above water and a sea lion friend was helping him stay afloat, until he slipped under and did not resurface. Sea lion #349 is now gone. The Dam Guardians on the ground named him “Justice” and observed a moment of silence for him.
Sea lions are part of the Columbia River landscape and have been since before the Lewis & Clark expeditions. This river is as much their home as it is ours. The ODFW needs to stop blaming ‘federally protected’ sea lions for their own mismanagement of salmon populations. They have clearly been made into scapegoats.
The Dam Guardians will be on the ground at the Bonneville Dam and the Port of Astoria documenting this horrific scene and bringing it to the world through May 31, 2013. Sea Shepherd is asking concerned citizens to register their complaints with the offices of the Governors of Wash. and Ore. Donate to the effort or consider becoming a Dam Guardian. For more information, log onto “What You Can Do” at http://www.seashepherd.org/dam-guardians/