On May 3, 2012, a Sea Shepherd Dam Guardian volunteer observed a man working around the sea lions traps in Astoria, Oregon. We understand his name is Matt and he may be a researcher from a California based marine mammal center. “Matt” was observed twice attempting to kick sea lions at the trap. He failed, but his actions constitute criminal violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and certainly do not reflect the actions we would expect from someone representing a marine mammal rescue center.
“Matt” has also been observed branding sea lions at the traps, chasing sea lions off of resting areas, and forcing sea lions into cages. He pokes them with sticks, bangs on the fencing, and kicks boards in front of them. The sea lions are harassed, scared, and perhaps even injured by these activities.
Now, in one sense, our raising this complaint could be seen as absurd because we all know that the states of Oregon and Washington, in complicity with the US National Marine Fisheries Service, will be killing some of these sea lions. However, the law is the law and fair and safe treatment of these protected marine mammals is expected. Just because you are going to kill them does not give you the right to abuse them.
Killing sea lions for eating fish is the epitome of absurdity. It gets even crazier however. We have recently heard that the states want to begin killing birds as well. Birds and Pinnipeds are not the reason salmon are in decline. Humans are the reason, through our dams, pollution, and especially over-fishing.
Dam Guardian Campaign Coordinator