Monday, April 20, 2009

Executed for killing endangered salmon

Take a look at this face (left). Did he deserve to die for killing endangered salmon?

It's a tough question, we all want to save endangered species, especially iconic and valuable fish like salmon. But what do we do when there's a conflict between this and other social values, like the respect many people have for marine mammals?

In this case, some sea lions are being killed by the government when they're caught feeding on salmon that are vulnerable because they have to swim up narrow fish ladders. The endangered salmon present an easy target for the non-endangered and thus expendable sea lions.

The sea lion in the picture was known as C265, he was an adult male California sea lion and he was the first sea lion killed for eating endangered salmon in the Columbia River. According to the Sea Lion Defense Brigade, other sea lions have been killed in the last month.

In a sense, the executed sea lions were just doing what comes naturally, eating fish. But they exploited some man-made habitats where they found easy pickins of endangered salmon that we're spending millions to save.

It's worthy of note that the sea lions were killing fewer salmon than human fishermen, so it's a bit hypocritical that we object so heavily to what the sea lions are doing. Sea lions were seen taking 0.4% to 4.2% of the salmon run, not exactly devastating by itself. But, in combination with human impacts, they were eating too many salmon, and they had to go.

In reality, these sea lions were the victims of human development. There's no easy answer here, and we're going to face more of these problems in the future if we really want to save endangered species.


Lydia said...

I could cry for the complexity and sadness of it all. It's times like this that I am secure in my decision never to have children. You said the "sea lions were the victims of human development," which is, in part, so true. But it really boils down to "development of humans" aka overpopulation.

Fish Whisperer said...

I agree with Lydia and will add over exploitation of natural resources. Why don't we start killing illegal fishermen, aka longliners and trawlers that over catch and under report? Better yet how about politicians that refuse to act such as ICCAT?

Heidi said...

It blows my mind that after looking at all the evidence the only "solution" they came up with was to kill sea lions...seriously?

Mister Kurtz said...

If a nest of rats were eating Condor eggs in the wild, we would expect the Fish and Wildlife folks to intervene (counseling, perhaps?). And this is different, how? Lots of folks enjoy seal meat, and the hide has lots of uses. Get over it.

David J. Hirsh said...

Ugh. Examinations of the lions captured for zoo-export so far revealed that every single one was diseased and incapable of reproduction, or aged. That is to say, without the artifice of a ready food source created by the fish ladders, they would have perished from natural causes well before their capture. So before we start calling for fisherman murder or paying short shrift to the officials that have actually review that "evidence" and make the hard decisions, maybe we ought to calm down a little bit.

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