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News / Sports / Outdoors

Outdoor notes: Application submitted to lethally remove sea lions from Columbia River

By Terry Otto, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 19, 2019, 10:46pm

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with several stakeholders, has submitted an application to remove by lethal force, California and Stellar sea lions that are preying on protected salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River and many of its tributaries.

Sea lion numbers have been growing alarmingly in the last decade, and they have been gathering below the Bonneville Dam to intercept salmon and steelhead as they make their way upstream. Many of the fish they are feeding on are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Many runs of salmon, particularly chinook, are struggling. Chinook runs this year are so low that fishing closures have been enacted.

“The vast majority of these animals remain in coastal and offshore waters, but several hundred have established themselves in upriver locations,” said Kessina Lee, Region 5 director with WDFW in a news release. “Where salmon and steelhead numbers are low, any unmanaged increase in predation can cause serious problems.”

The application submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by WDFW and its partners is the first since Congress passed an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in December 2018. The amendment allows for greater flexibility when determining if sea lions should be removed lethally.

If approved, WDFW expects to humanely remove animals under the terms of the expanded application in 2020. The application is subject to public comment and review by NMFS. Members of the public can review the application at https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-06/MMPA-120f-application.pdf. (WDFW)

Gifford-Pinchot closes Summit Creek Campground

Summit Creek Campground on Forest Road 4510 has been decommissioned effective May 6, as a part of ongoing effort to adapt to current conditions and move toward more sustainable developed recreation opportunities on the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District.

All facilities have been removed and vehicle access is no longer possible.

Soda Spring and La Wis Wis Campgrounds are the closest alternative developed camping options.

Forest Road 25, Forest Road 99, and Forest Road 23 have opened for the summer season. The Gifford Pinchot reminds motorists to use caution while driving on all forest roads.

Pick up a free, printed or digital Motor Vehicle Use Map that shows all legal forest roads on the Gifford Pinchot. (GPNF)

Officials lethally remove habituated bear near Henry Hagg Lake

Wildlife biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have lethally removed a black bear near Henry Hagg Lake that had become habituated to humans. The bear had been seen several times recently at the lakes boat ramp.

State troopers reported that people had been feeding the bear trail mix, sunflower seeds, cracked corn and other food stuffs that had been left for the bear.

Some members of the public had been taking selfies with the bear and posting them to social media, which alerted the troopers to the situation.

Under ORS496.615 it is illegal to “scatter food, garbage or any other attractant so as to knowingly constitute a lure, enticement or attractant for potentially habituated wildlife.”

“This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears,” said Kurt Licence, an ODFW employee in a news release. “While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions bears should never, ever be fed.”

For more information on how to safely and responsibly interact with Oregon’s black bears, please visit ODFW’s “Living with Wildlife” section online at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.asp (ODFW)

Columbian staff writer