Congress approves bill to allow killing sea lions to help salmon

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In Portland, Oregon, Congress has approved a bill making it legal to kill sea lions that are allegedly threatening the salmon runs in the Northwest. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act which will lift restrictions.

According to NbcNews, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported the sea lion populations have increased so much they no longer need the protection put into place in 1972. Now sea lions deemed to be problematic in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and several Pacific Northwest tribes would be captured and killed.

Governors of Oregon, Washington and Idaho are in favor of the bill contending wildlife managers will have greater flexibility controlling California sea lions that have increased from 10,000 in the 1960s to 300,000 following the enactment of the 1972 protection act.

Critics of the bill state the sea lions are not the problem for the declining salmon populations which now include the construction of dams and natural loss of their habitats.

An additional problem with the decreasing population of salmon includes endangering orca whales that have been starving. During the last three years, there have been no calves born to the black and white killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. Classified as endangered since 2005, their primary prey, the Chinook or king salmon continues to die off. In the late 1990s, there were  less than 100 orcas that followed the salmon migration possibly signaling the marine ecosystem could be about to collapse.

Additional critics or the bill also point out pollution. Industrial waste, spillage for wastewater treatment plants and the lingering effects of pesticides continue to destroy our environment. Instead, politicians call to kill more sea life.

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