Tag Archives: Bonneville Dam

Herrera Beutler: To save steelhead, we must cut sea lion numbers

Steelhead, longtime residents in our rivers here in the Pacific Northwest, are now approaching extinction with alarming speed. This isn’t exaggeration; the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife found that one population of steelhead has an 89 percent chance of becoming extinct in the not too distant future. The culprit for the fish’s demise? Sea lions. Experts are pointing to the increased population of California sea lions as the biggest threat. The sea lions gather in locations where steelhead and salmon are the most vulnerable, like below the Willamette Falls or the Bonneville Dam, where these native fish species congregate before heading upstream to spawn. An alarmingly low number of native steelhead — just 512 — made it over Willamette Falls this year. click here to read the story 10:01

Oregon, Washington and tribes again take aim at sea lions in dispute over salmon

Congress is once again considering giving Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife officials and regional tribes broader authority to kill sea lions below the Bonneville Dam, an effort supporters say is necessary to protect 13 endangered species of salmon and steelhead. But unlike previous attempts to rein in the marine mammals, which are protected under federal law, the legislation goes beyond killing the dozens that converge each spring on the fish logjam at the Columbia River dam 145 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The bipartisan team behind the bill — Reps. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-Washington, and Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon — want to go much further. They also want to make it easier to kill California sea lions found on the Willamette River and its tributaries, and anywhere on the Columbia River east of Interstate 205. If the legislation is approved, as many as 920 sea lions could be killed annually, compared with 92 under current law. click here to read the story 08:54

Bad salmon run hints at trouble ahead

Count backward three years and we come to 2014 — precursor to this spring’s extremely poor salmon returns. Fewer than 20,000 adult spring Chinook and about 1,500 immature jacks have been counted at Bonneville Dam, compared to 10-year averages of about 127,000 and 17,000. Shad, another species that should begin surging toward inland spawning grounds about now, reached a count of 26 at Bonneville late last week, compared to the 10-year average of more than 11,000. In the case of Chinook, actual returns may not be quite so bleak as the dam count indicates. Heavy mountain runoff has made the Columbia’s water cloudy and cold. Test fisheries found quite a few Chinook loitering here in the estuary, delaying their swim upstream. But with the start of summer only a month away, there isn’t much time left for the spring run to come through. If they don’t make it to spawning grounds, the run three years from now also will be weak. click here to read the op-ed 09:36

Sea lions hinder salmon conservation

California and Steller sea lions took a bigger bite out of last year’s salmon run than in any previous year, according to a new federal report. 2015 saw a bigger run, with more than 239,000 chinook and steelhead migrating past Bonneville Dam. That year, the total number of salmon that sea lions ate was he largest ever recorded. The Army Corps of Engineers recorded more than 260 sea lions eating more than 10,000 fish from January to June 2015. The 2016 salmon run was far smaller, but the sea lions’ appetite for salmon didn’t shrink much. They still ate more than 9,500 fish, nearly 6 percent of the run. That’s the largest share of the run eaten by the large marine mammals since Army Corps scientists started watching 15 years ago. Read the rest here 12:43

Early action key to reducing sea lion impacts on Bonneville Dam salmon

A new study used the same kind of models that scientists use to track disease to instead examine how some California sea lions have learned to prey on salmon gathering to ascend fish ladders at Bonneville Dam. Although sea lions commonly feast on fish, their predation on salmon at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River poses wildlife management challenges. The sea lions that gather on the Columbia each spring are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act while the salmon they are eating are protected by the Endangered Species Act. In 2008 NOAA Fisheries authorized Oregon, Washington and Idaho wildlife authorities to begin trapping and removing sea lions shown to repeatedly prey on salmon at the dam. The removal program was designed to reduce impacts on protected salmon. Read the rest here 20:04

Saving the Salmon – 38 sea lions killed near Bonneville Dam this year

Sea_lion_1462326682732_2089304_ver1.0Wildlife workers from Oregon and Washington have killed 38 California sea lions at Bonneville Dam this year. That’s the most in any single year since getting approval from NMFS in 2008. NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein says it appears the program is working. “These are the fish that a lot of people are working really hard to save by improving habitat and making improvements at the dam and we don’t want to lose ground by having them be eaten by sea lions on their way back to spawn,” he said. The authorization to kill the animals runs out in June of 2016. Oregon and Washington have asked for another five years. NMFS is expected to decide in June or July. Video Read the rest here  08:09

Lower river spring Chinook fishing on hold until run update; Bonneville Dam counts building

With catch limits near, planned commercial fisheries targeting spring Chinook salmon in so-called “select areas” in the lower Columbia River estuary were rescinded and/or trimmed back in decisions made this week by Oregon and Washington. dalleschronile.com  Read more here  16:21

The Army Corps of Engineers created a “pollution crisis” on the Columbia River – Greens Call Bonneville Dam Cancerous Polluter

“The Columbia River is one of the West’s great river systems. This river supports rich fishing traditions, provides water for communities and agriculture, recreation opportunities, and power for hydroelectric dams. The river is also severely degraded by pollution. Toxic pollution threatens the health of people that eat local fish and jeopardizes the public’s right to eat fish caught locally. Rising water temperatures also threaten the health of salmon and other aquatic life that relies on cool water for survival,” the complaint states. @courthousenews

Tracy Warner — Salmon return; so do sea lions

The annual arrival of the salmon is soon followed by the sighting of the first California sea lion, followed soon by the first photographers snapping shots of indiscriminate predators making meals of the world’s most valuable fish. Lawyers soon follow, being the dominant species. Read more