Target: Ed Bowles, Fish Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)
Goal: Urge Oregon officials to stop branding and killing sea lions for “eating too many salmon.”
Salmon are a protected species. So are sea lions. So why are sea lions being harmed and even killed for simply following their natural instincts and eating salmon? Tell the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to leave the sea lions alone and come up with a new way of protecting the salmon population.
The ODFW’s sea-lion-branding initiative comes as a result of an ever-dwindling salmon population. Sea lions are natural predators of salmon, and few people would debate the fact that, given the opportunity, a sea lion will eat as many salmon as it can, regardless of the fish’s “protected” status. However, is it right or fair to penalize sea lions for simply trying to survive? How can one endangered species be protected while the other is actively hunted down?
The double standard arises largely from the appeal salmon holds for human consumers. Overfishing and unsustainable harvesting practices have played a large role in placing salmon on the protected species list in the first place. As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) points out, the ODFW could protect the salmon by banning fishing in salmon habitats. A simple, straightforward step like that makes much more sense than the current plan, which involves tracking down sea lions, hauling them ashore, branding them with a hot iron, and releasing them back into the wild, only to be killed if they are caught “overindulging” in their natural food source.
Furthermore, PETA points out, if the sea lions are truly such a menace to the salmon population, “they can be humanely and effectively deterred using physical and visual barriers.”
Saving one species at the expense of another’s well-being is nonsensical and, in this case, inhumane. Please sign the petition and urge Oregon officials to come up with a plan for salmon protection that is both more effective and ethically sound.
Dear Mr. Bowles,
The protection of wild salmon is, undoubtedly, a key issue facing the Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, why should the protection of one species come at the expense of another? The current plan to bolster the salmon population through the slaughter of sea lions who eat too many salmon is nonsensical and inhumane. I urge you to come up with an alternative plan that will protect the interests of both species.
One of the main differences between sea lions, which are also a protected species, and salmon is that sea lions are not in-demand for human consumption. Because salmon have value as a commodity as well as a species in their own right, it makes sense that the state of Oregon would expend extra effort in protecting them. However, it is ridiculous to kill sea lions for following their natural instincts and feeding on salmon. Sea lions and salmon have coexisted in the Pacific for centuries, so it is unlikely that the sea lions are suddenly solely responsible for the decline of the salmon population–overfishing and other human activities must shoulder the majority of the blame.
Accordingly, the salmon population could be greater served by banning fishing in salmon habitats and enacting stricter regulations about who can fish where, and when. If the sea lions still pose a threat to the salmon population, there are far more humane and efficient methods for preventing them from overconsuming salmon. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggests the use of “physical and visual barriers,” which they deem “humane…and effective”–a far cry from the complicated and inhumane current plan of rounding up sea lions, hauling them ashore, branding them, re-releasing them…and then killing them when they do something as simple as consume their natural prey.
I urge you to take a broader view of the protection of marine life in Oregon. Revise the current plan for protecting the salmon population.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: werner22brigitte via Pixabay