Sea lions died in an accident during the trapping of California sea lions due to a trap malfunction at the Bonneville Dam earlier this week. The problem was discovered Wednesday and the two sea lions were already deceased, possibly due to being crushed by a bigger, 1,500 lb. Stellar sea lion that was additionally captured in the same trap, as they apparently travel together in the same are.
A veterinarian from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife veterinarian (ODFW) did a necropsy of the dead animals to determine the cause of the sea lions die incident. Officials said that the trap malfunction death of the two sea lions is a risk that any organization takes that works to rescue wild animals and trap and release them. However, the ODFW has successfully been able to handle 1000s of these sea lions in the past without incident in the past 15 years.
Sea Lions Die, Suspends Rescue Program
Due to the sea lions die incident, it was determined that a trap malfunction apparently caused the door to close too soon, a report was made to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and they have decided to suspend the California sea lions rescue program temporarily, so they won’t be trying to capture any of the sea lions that travel in this area until this is lifted, which is expected to happen next week.
Oregon and Washington have had this program to trap and release California sea lions since 2008. This is done in order to keep endangered salmon and steelhead levels from lowering in the area of the Bonneville Dam. The salmon and Steelhead fish populations fall under the Endangered Animals list, which is operated by the Marine Protection Act.
Biologists Allowed to Trap, Kill Some Sea Lions
Even though the biologists in the state are allowed to trap and kill sea lions that travel in the area and which have been known to eat the protected fish species, the two sea lions in the trap malfunction ad not been marked for termination, so may not have been a reason for the sea lions die incident. The trap malfunction was seemingly caused even though the door is not supposed to close unless a person triggers it, and it is thought the failure was due to a bad electromagnetic lock on the cage.
In 2015, the state has captured nearly 80 California Sea Lions at the Bonneville Dam trap location. Unfortunately, 14 of those were euthanized due to being habitual offenders of eating the endangered salmon and steelhead fish in the area. Before the trapping resumes next week, the bad lock will be repaired and tested to be sure it is functioning properly in order to avoid any other sea lions die incidents.