"Wildlife activists sued on Monday to stop the killing of sea lions that have been eating endangered Columbia River salmon, seeking a reprieve for the animals a day before three Pacific Northwest states are authorized to begin executing them."
"The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., follows last week's decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service to sanction the limited killing of California sea lions.
The Humane Society of the United States, Wild Fish Conservancy and two individual plaintiffs are seeking an injunction barring the authorization from taking effect on Tuesday.
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 rights activists argue that the sea lions are unfairly blamed for low fish stocks and charge that fishing, hatchery practices, hydroelectric dam barriers, and environmental degradation pose a far greater risk."
Teresa Carson reports for Reuters March 21, 2012.