The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon

Using fireworks to thwart local sea lions

February 7, 2011

The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife begins using hazing fireworks to thwart local sea lions
By Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will soon begin hazing sea lions below the fish ladders at Willamette Falls in an attempt to reduce predation on federally listed salmon and steelhead on their migration to the upper reaches of the Willamette River and its tributaries.

Now in the second year of a pilot program to see whether sea lion hazing can be effective in moving these animals away from Willamette Falls and potentially reduce fish mortality, the program will take place five days a week between dawn and dusk from Feb. 1 through April 30. The hazing effort will be restricted to the Willamette River between Willamette Falls and the I-205 Bridge about a mile downstream.

A small crew of ODFW employees will deploy hazing fireworks from the Willamette Falls fish ladder and a boat to move California sea lions away from the falls where salmon and steelhead congregate before entering fish ladders. No hazing will occur downstream of the I-205 Bridge, and sea lions will not be killed or harmed.

“Our purpose is not to harm the sea lions or move them off the river entirely, our intent is to move these animals away from ESA-listed fish that are congregating at the fish ladders waiting to swim upstream,” said Tom Murtagh, ODFW fish biologist in charge of the project.

The hazing operation is being conducted under the authority and consistent with policies set in the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Additionally, predation of listed salmon and steelhead by California sea lions below Willamette Falls has been identified as a concern in the Draft Upper Willamette River Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan.

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