April 22, 2013

Dam Guardian Report - April 22, 2013

By Ashley Lenton, Dam Guardian Campaign Leader and Sandy McElhaney, Dam Guardian Campaign Volunteer

A seal bomb explodes within feet of these sea lionsA seal bomb explodes within feet of these sea lions
Photo: Aaron Hall / Sea Shepherd
The day we had been dreading arrived on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at the Bonneville Dam.  On that date, workers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) extinguished the life of sea lion C022.  We knew C022 as “Brian the Lion.”

As part of our “Champion a Sea Lion” program, people from around the world gave a name to each of the condemned sea lions targeted for lethal removal from the Bonneville Dam for the crime of eating endangered salmon.  There was no financial cost to any of the 88 individuals who stepped forward to name a sea lion, just a desire to acknowledge that each sea lion on the Columbia River is a unique individual, born of a mother and a father, and with a strong will to survive in the waters that have been home to California sea lions since at least the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Our Champions have honored the sea lions with names like Hammer, Watson, Farley, Freedom and Power.  “Brian” was given his name by longtime Sea Shepherd supporter Steve Jack of Scotland.  It is our fervent wish that these sea lions, and all of their kin, may swim, frolic, fish and live in peace for all of their days.  Sadly, those near the Bonneville Dam are subject to daily bombing from paid thugs who hurl flash bangs and fire rubber bullets straight at them.  We have observed these misguided, heartless individuals with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) and the killers with the USDA Wildlife Services Program going to great lengths to haze resting sea lions off of rocks, only to shoot at them point blank with rubber bullets once they are in the water.  Our volunteers have taken numerous photos of sea lions marked with wounds consistent with rubber bullets.

One of the many hazers we encounter on a daily basis at the Bonneville DamOne of the many hazers we encounter on
a daily basis at the Bonneville Dam
Photo: Aaron Hall / Sea Shepherd

On April 18, ODFW issued a “removal report” following the execution of Brian.  In a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Marine Mammal Program Leader Robin F. Brown writes:

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, we captured C022 on a floating trap at Bonneville Dam. This sea lion was on the list of animals authorized for permanent removal (sequential number 134) according to the criteria outlined in the MMPA Section 120 authority (known individual animals, present at Bonneville Dam on five or more occasions, observed consuming salmonids, and exposed to non-lethal hazing efforts).

The Queens Zoo was recently authorized by NMFS to take two live sea lions. However, during the initial health exam C022 presented with obvious precancerous lesions on the genitalia and was therefore not an acceptable candidate for transfer to a permanent holding facility. As a result, the animal was euthanized according to our IACUC guidelines. Various biological samples were collected for examination and the remaining materials were disposed of in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

These evil monsters branded Brian with a red hot iron on April 24, 2012, and then stalked him for nearly a year.  When he landed in their traps, they wasted no time in snuffing out the life of an animal whose only crime was trying to survive.  To use the presence of “precancerous lesions” as a determining factor in whether an animal has the right to breathe, speaks volumes about morals and integrity or lack thereof.

Ironically, Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber, a former emergency room physician, has taken a strong public stance against the death penalty.  On November 22, 2011, Kitzhaber stated, “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."  Obviously, Governor Kitzhaber’s righteous indignation extends only as far as convicted murderers, and not to innocent animals wrongly branded as criminals.  With all due respect Governor, we would like to remind you that the oath you took was the Hippocratic oath -- NOT the Hipocritic oath.  It is wrong to kill people and it is also wrong to kill sea lions. We hope everyone reading this report will ring Governor Kitzhaber at (503) 378-4582 to share their thoughts on the death penalty as it relates to sea lions on the Columbia River.

Our heartfelt gratitude to the great people around the world for supporting the Dam Guardian Campaign.  We appreciate your kindness and warm letters of support.  If you would like to join us on campaign, please send an email to damguardian@seashepherd.org.  We will send you an application packet.  Our campaign runs through May 31, so it is not too late.

Finally, a deep thanks to the amazing Dam Guardians who have served on the ground since our last update.  The crew at the Dam including Aaron, Jeff, Errol, Sebastien, Airick, John and Stephan, has braved some intense wind and rain and a less than welcoming attitude from locals in order to monitor the well-being of our sea lion friends.  At the Port of Astoria, Frances and Carol have taken advantage of a lull in the heinous sea lion branding conducted by ODFW workers to clean-up a small stretch of polluted shoreline.  They were able to retrieve several bags of tin cans, wire, broken glass, boards with nails sticking out of them, plastic, rope, and over 100 pieces of thick rusted metal.  We are always mindful that our role as Sea Shepherds is to defend, conserve and protect this planet that we love.

For the sea lions!

Dam Guardians Frances and Carol in AstoriaDam Guardians Frances and Carol in Astoria
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Dam Guardians Errol, Jeff, Ashley, Sebastien and Aaron at the Bonneville DamDam Guardians Errol, Jeff, Ashley, Sebastien and Aaron
at the Bonneville Dam
Photo: Aaron Hall / Sea Shepherd

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