The group Sea Shepherd was in Astoria on Sunday photographing and video-taping Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife technicians as they captured and branded 38 sea lions at the East Mooring Basin.
The group says habitat loss, hydroelectric dams, hatchery fish and harvest are responsible for the bulk of wild salmon declines, rather than sea lion predation.
A federal judge in February upheld the authority of NOAA Fisheries Service to let Oregon kill up to 30 sea lions a year to protect salmon. Department records showed 10 sea lions were killed last year. Sea lions are killed by lethal injection if they are seen eating salmon and won’t be driven away by hazing.
About 1,400 sea lions have been branded at Astoria since 1997 as part of a general population study. Numbers branded on the animals are used to identify sea lions that go upriver to feed on endangered salmon at Bonneville Dam, where the fish are vulnerable while waiting to go over the fish ladder. (AP)