N. Ore-S. Wash.: 20 dead sea lions in 2 months

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GEARHART, Ore. (AP) -- A marine mammal researcher says about 20 dead sea lions -- most with gunshot wounds -- have been found in northern Oregon and southern Washington in just two months.

Dalin D'Alessandro tells The Oregonian (http://is.gd/2a3KRM ) that the shooting surge is claiming both California and Steller sea lions. She's a Portland State University research assistant with a regional marine mammal stranding network.

The dead creatures have been found near the mouth of the Columbia River.

D'Alessandro thinks the killing is due to frustrated fishermen. She says it's typical to see a slight increase in dead sea lions around the opening of salmon season, but recent numbers are about four times what's typical.

Last month, a federal judge rejected a request to halt the killing of California sea lions that eat protected salmon at Oregon's Bonneville Dam. That program allows Idaho, Oregon and Washington authorities to kill targeted sea lions.

California sea lions are federally protected as marine mammals, but not as endangered or threatened species. The area's Steller sea lions are currently federally protected as a threatened species.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com