Oregon gets OK to kill sea lions at Willamette Falls

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials have received federal approval to trap and kill California sea lions that eat protected fish at Willamette Falls.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday the permit allows them to trap and euthanize up to 93 animals a year on the lower Willamette River.

Officials say sea lions are intercepting fish on their way to spawning grounds above Willamette Falls south of Portland and removing them will help save threatened winter steelhead and spring chinook salmon.

Opponents say killing them won’t solve the problem of declining salmon.

Wildlife officials can only remove sea lions observed in the area for two days or are seen eating fish.

For years now, Washington, Idaho and Oregon wildlife managers have been killing problem sea lions that eat salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam.