"The states of Oregon and Washington can kill sea lions that have feasted on endangered Columbia River salmon, under an authorization given on Thursday by the federal government.
The decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marked the latest reversal in the federal government's position on sanctioned killing of California sea lions. It upset animal rights advocates, who argue the creatures are unfairly blamed for low fish stocks.
The hungry sea lions swim 140 miles upstream and cluster at the Bonneville Dam, on the border between Oregon and Washington state, to eat salmon and steelhead trout as the fish head up the Columbia River to spawn. That is seen by the states as a threat to the recovery of the fish.
But animal protection activists charge fishing, hatchery practices, hydroelectric dam barriers, and environmental degradation pose a far greater risk."