U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

Every animal has the right to live!
Something terrible was decided by the U.S. government for sea lions; it’s now legal to kill about 1,000 of those animals every year, just because they were trying to survive.

The population of salmon, especially Chinook salmon, on the West Coast of the U.S, has decreased dramatically. The Chinook salmon is even enlisted as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

Sea lions, however, naturally survive on salmon. Yet, the officials believe killing them would help increase the survival of the endangered species. Animal welfare advocates are defending sea lions, indicating how unfairly they are being treated.
“Predator control almost never works and it won’t work here, because the legislation fails to address the fundamental problems we have caused in salmon habitat,” Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), said in a statement.
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

According to Ryan Ososki, policy adviser for AWI says that there are other factors to blame than pointing the fingers at the sea lions, like commercial fishing and the construction of dams.

“Is it any wonder that Chinook salmon are endangered when dams in the Columbia River Basin have permanently blocked 55 per cent of their historic spawning habitat?” Ososki said in a statement. “Sea lions did not construct these dams, yet the president has signed into law a bill blaming them for the declining salmon population. This is bad legislation; it totally ignores the human-caused impacts to these endangered salmon.”
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

Historically, sea lions have been protected in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This makes the matter even more controversial, given that the act says it’s illegal to hurt, harass or kill these animals. However, the new legislation separates the creatures from these protections and allows removing of them in large numbers.

State officials could get permissions to remove individual sea lions were eating endangered salmons, however, they couldn’t remove more than 92 sea lions each year. Now, it’s ten times more and it also allows officials to kill any sea lion in the Columbia River Basin, no matter they are eating salmon or not.
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

In addition to the state officials, tribal officials and contractors are also allowed to kill the animals.

“It’s basically open season on sea lions now, whether they’re preying on endangered fish or not,” Rose said.

It is the requirement in the new legislation that the sea lions should be trapped and humanely euthanized by drugs. However, according to Rose, such killing methods can be very burdensome and expensive.
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

“We worry very much that permit holders will sometimes shoot sea lions, which is not humane,” Rose said.

“Before, shooting a sea lion was a full-on violation of the MMPA and carried a hefty penalty — but now it would just be a violation of a permit (and they would still have to be caught doing it) and the penalty would be less.”
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

Shooting sea lions could cause them a lot of unnecessary pain.

“A clean shot is difficult when shooting at something in the water,” Rose said. “So a wounded sea lion might suffer considerably before dying. “
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

The animal welfare advocates are also worried about how the new law can encourage illegal killings of sea lions, and that is already happening around Puget Sound in Washington. More than 13 dead sea lions washed ashore in just past few months. All of them had gunshots and other human-caused injuries.

What’s most outrageous to Rose is the amendments to the MMPA, which, for the last four decades, have been helping protect marine animals like sea lions.
U.S. Government Makes Killing Hundreds Of Sea Lions Legal

“This new provision … is essentially a cull,” Rose said. “Now the MMPA, a wildlife protection law, allows a cull of one of the species it is meant to protect. This is a crack in its foundation and it will lead to other cracks — more requests for more amendments allowing more culls of marine mammals user groups blame for this or that — and quite possibly eventually a collapse of the statute altogether.”

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