Nets, firecrackers and recordings of killer whales haven't stopped sea lions from gobbling salmon swimming through a ship canal, so wildlife officials are going to send the overeaters into exile.
This year's run of steelhead salmon, a seagoing rainbow trout that returns to fresh water to spawn, was about 1,650 at a fish ladder that lets salmon pass a set of locks, down from about 2,600 last year, officials said this week.Seven to nine California sea lions "hanging around" the locks are gulping an average of 14 fish a day each, said Bob Byrne, state Wildlife Department spokesman. Despite a net barrier erected last year, the 300- to 800-pound animals gobbled about 53 percent of the run, Byrne said. Sea lions eat 5 percent of their body weight daily, said Susan Ewing, a department spokeswoman.
Sea lions heading for their usual easy pickings in the pool below the fish ladder at the locks will be trapped, trucked about 200 miles to the Long Beach Peninsula, just north of the mouth of the Columbia River, and released on the coast.