The need to restore salmon runs on the Columbia and Snake Rivers has long been a contentious issue in the Pacific Northwest. I believe a reasonable solution is possible that both helps salmon and doesn’t call for us tearing down our dams. However, these efforts are being compromised by thousands of California sea lions that eat an estimated 3,000 Chinook salmon each year.  That is why I have recently cosponsored the bipartisan Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act, which authorizes the lethal removal of aggressive sea lions that are preying on endangered Columbia River salmon.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it can take three to five years for wildlife managers to get permission from the federal government to remove aggressive sea lions. Past attempts to remove the sea lions, which have included them being chased by boats, harassed by rockets and subjected to noise from underwater speakers, have all failed.

Costs to protect the endangered salmon under the Endangered Species Act have risen considerably over the last several years. Because of Judge Redden’s mandated spill in the summer of 2005, consumers lost nearly $75 million in electricity generation, while saving only 20-200 fish. That is a $3 million fish!

We must prevent these sea lions from eating and injuring the endangered salmon that we are spending millions of dollars to protect. After many failed attempts to deter the sea lions, this bill is a necessary step in order to protect the salmon.