Many Agencies Designated to Harass Sea Lions at Taxpayer Expense, But None Available to Help in Their Time of Need

"Hope" (sea lion #781) was clearly in distress in the shallows, but no government agency would come to his aid."Hope" (sea lion #781) was clearly in distress in the shallows, but no government agency would come to his aid.
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd’s Dam Guardians on the scene at the Port of Astoria to document the hazing, branding and killing of sea lions for the crime of eating salmon along the Columbia River report having identified a sea lion in distress at the west end of the Port in the East Basin late Monday afternoon.  Branded with the number 781, he appeared to have a fresh, bleeding puncture or gunshot wound on his back along with splattered yellow paint on his fur.  The area along the riverbanks where he was found is riddled with jagged glass and sharp metal objects which could have injured the animal or he could have been the victim of malintent. He has been in a shallow area of the river since he was found. His breathing is labored and he is having trouble keeping his head above water. In the hope they can obtain some assistance to treat the animal before it’s too late, the Dam Guardians have named him, “Hope.”

The Dam Guardians have reported “Hope’s” condition to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but in Oregon the law is such that they have no authority to act, as the state has a policy of “no rehab.” The Dam Guardians have also tried calling the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) but these government agencies are not open after 5 pm and remarkably do not have an after-hours emergency number to report wildlife in trouble.

“It’s hard to fathom that on any given day the river is crawling with representatives of NOAA, NMFS, ODFW, Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, and the Bonneville Power Administration who all play a role in the relentless hazing, branding, capturing and ultimately killing of these innocent animals at taxpayer expense,” said Ashley Lenton, on site Dam Guardian Campaign Leader. “But the moment an animal is in trouble, not only is there no help to be found, it is actually a crime to assist these animals due to Oregon’s archaic and heartless wildlife protection laws,” she added.

Even on Earth Day, recognized globally as a day to help make a positive impact on the Earth, an animal in distress, who should be under protection, will suffer. In the absence of any government agency coming to the animal’s aid, the Dam Guardians will be maintaining a vigil all night so that “Hope” is not left alone in his time of need.  At the time of this writing, “Hope” disappeared toward the pier, which has been temporarily closed to foot traffic.

“Oregon, especially the tourist town of Astoria, needs to take a page from San Francisco’s Pier 39 playbook and realize how economically lucrative it would be to clean up the Astoria shoreline and give permanent safe haven to the sea lions who have called this region home since well before the Lewis & Clark Expedition,” said Lenton. “Otherwise, I have a suggestion for a new state tourism slogan: ‘Come to Oregon: Home of Dead Sea Lions.”

Background:

•           The Dam Guardians campaign kicked off March 15th and is Sea Shepherd’s second sea lion defense campaign along the Columbia River. Up to 368 California sea lions face execution by Oregon and Washington state workers for the crime of eating endangered salmon on the Columbia River near the Bonneville Dam. The states are authorized to kill 92 of the federally protected pinnipeds annually through June 2016. The sea lions will be branded with hot irons, hazed with rubber bullets and explosives, and killed by lethal injection or shotgun for historically eating less than 4% of the salmon at the dam. Last season alone, they took less than 1.6%. All of this mayhem is conducted on the taxpayers’ dime while commercial, sport, and tribal fisheries are allowed to take up to 17% of the same endangered salmon and the dam itself destroys approximately 17% of adult salmon.

•           The Dam Guardians will be on the ground at the Port of Astoria and the Bonneville Dam documenting and publicizing the harassment and killings through May 31, 2013. Sea Shepherd is asking concerned citizens to register their complaints with the Offices of the Governors of Wash. and Ore., donate to the effort or consider becoming a Dam Guardian. For more information, log onto “What You Can Do” at http://www.seashepherd.org/dam-guardians/

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