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Sea lions on the shore near Bonneville Dam

Sea lions on the bank near Bonneville Dam

The spring chinook will soon be returning to the Columbia River. Unfortunately this also means we can expect sea lions soon, too. Traps and hazing boats will be back on the river to deter them, however there is a strong likelihood that sea lions will still have an impact on returning adult salmon.

Last year, sea lions found their way above Bonneville Dam. Tribal fishers reported seeing sea lions prey on salmon throughout the Bonneville pool from Cascade Locks to The Dalles. Any information tribal fishers can provide tribal biologists on the sea lion presence in Zone 6 would be useful in the continuing effort to address this problem.

If you see a sea lion while out on the river in Zone 6, please:

  • Record the date, time, location, and what the sea lion is doing.
  • Note any distinguishing marks or brands, locations where they have hauled out (come out of the water to rest), and take photos if possible.

This information is important for managers and will be useful in the ongoing efforts to remove sea lions below Bonneville.

If sea lions are spotted around fishing gear or interfering with tribal fisheries, you may attempt to chase away the sea lion using slingshots, fireworks, other noisemakers, or rocks. However, federal law prohibits anyone, including tribal fishers, from injuring or killing a sea lion. Anyone caught injuring or killing a sea lion can be charged with a felony and the penalties are quite substantial.

If you attempt to deter a nuisance sea lion, remember personal safety. Please be aware that it does involve risk to the person doing the deterring and anyone around them. Sea lions and seals are wild animals that may react unpredictably, resulting in personal injury or additional damage to property. Sea lions are large and powerful animals that can move as quickly as a person on land.

To report a sea lion above Bonneville Dam please contact CRITFC Enforcement: (800) 487-3474 or (541) 386-6363 or CRITFC’s Doug Hatch: (503) 238-0667.

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