The bizarre survival war has intensified recently as the sea lion population has increased and fish populations decline in the Pacific Northwest.
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The 318-kilogram sea lion blinked in the sun, sniffed the sea air and then lazily shifted to the edge of the truck bed and plopped onto the beach below.In Oregon, the sea lions are intercepting protected fish on their way to spawning grounds above Willamette Falls, a horseshoe-shaped waterfall about 40 kilometers from Portland.Clements estimates the sea lions also are eating about 9 percent of the spring chinook salmon, a species prized by Native American tribes still allowed to fish for them.Oregon wildlife managers say sea lions are beginning to move into even smaller tributaries for the first time and where some of the healthiest stocks of the threatened fish exist.Oregon and Washington wildlife managers are allowed to kill up to 93 sea lions trapped each year at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River under certain conditions.While Oregon awaits word on the sea lions' fate, wildlife managers are trapping them and hauling them to the ocean, which can sometimes seem futile.Five days after his 2 1/2-hour drive to the Oregon coast, #U253 was back at Willamette Falls, hungry for more fish.
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