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Six sea lions apparently shot in traps

May 5, 2008 | 10:03 am

Sea_lions_in_cage

Six federally protected sea lions were apparently shot to death on the Columbia River in Oregon as they lay in open traps put out to ensnare the animals, which eat endangered salmon. State and federal authorities are investigating, Times staff reports.

The discovery came one day after three elephant seals were found shot to death at a breeding ground in Central California.

Trapping will be suspended during the investigation, said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who was at the scene Sunday.

The Associate Press offers more details:

     Oregon and Washington have been granted federal authorization to capture or kill up to 85 sea lions a year for five years at the base of the dam, where they feed on endangered salmon headed upriver to spawn.

     Fishermen and American Indian tribes have pushed to protect the salmon and remove the sea lions, by lethal force if necessary, forcing a delicate balancing act by the federal government.

     The Humane Society of the United States has gone to court to challenge the authorization, with another hearing set for May 8.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Don Ryan/AP

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