20 sea lions found dead, most by gunshot, in US

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Associated Press

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 7:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 5 at 7:02 AM

GEARHART, Oregon (AP) — About 20 dead sea lions — most with gunshot wounds — have been found on the U.S. West Coast in just two months, a marine mammal researcher said.

Dalin D'Alessandro told The Oregonian newspaper that the shot sea lions have been found since the beginning of April in northern Oregon and southern Washington. The research assistant with the Northern Oregon-Southern Washington Marine Mammal Stranding Network said she thinks the killing is due to salmon fishermen frustrated over competition for their catch.

Last month, a federal judge rejected a request to halt the killing of California sea lions that eat protected salmon at Oregon's Bonneville Dam. That program allows Idaho, Oregon and Washington authorities to target and kill sea lions that eat a lot of the salmon.

California sea lions are federally protected as marine mammals, but not as endangered or threatened species. Steller sea lions are currently federally protected as a threatened species.

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