Group asks judge to halt sea lion killings

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A federal judge will decide by the end of May whether to stop the government from killing sea lions that eat Columbia River salmon.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon heard more than three hours of arguments Tuesday on an injunction request from The Humane Society of the United States.

The group wants to keep sea lions alive while its suit against the killing goes through the court system.

Almost 50 California sea lions have been killed since 2008 -- nine this spring.

A Humane Society lawyer said the government allows fishermen to take more salmon than the sea lions eat.

But government lawyers say fishermen -- unlike sea lions --can tell the difference between wild fish and hatchery fish, which are marked by a clipped fin.