Oregon and Washington state officials will have the authority to trap and, if necessary, kill up to 85 of the sea lions that gobble up threatened salmon at the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced Tuesday. Sea lions, which enjoy a robust population but are nonetheless protected under the 1972 Marine Mammals Protection Act, have been visiting the dam to feast on salmon for years. State officials first must try to trap the animals and see whether an aquarium, zoo, or marine park will take them; if no facilities are available, or if the animals avoid entrapment, the sea lions can be killed. Critics of the plan say that not enough attention has been paid to the threats posed to salmon by fisherfolk, habitat loss, birds, water pollution, and dams.

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