Tuesday, January 31, 2012

They Shoot Sea Lions, Don't They?

I’ve been trying to get into the mind of the person or persons shooting and killing sea lions in Puget Sound.

Thus far, eight are dead.

Back in March 2010, a total of 10 sea lions had been found shot to death in three months.

When there were lots and lots of salmon, humans and sea lions all got their share.  Now there are less salmon and sea lions eat salmon and sometimes screw over fishing gear. Some salmon fishermen don’t like sea lions.

I’ve heard both a tribal and a non-tribal fisherman talk angrily about sea lions and how they ought to be shot. Back in the late ‘90s, the sea lion dubbed “Herschel” and his friends stationed themselves downstream from the Chittenden Locks in Ballard feasting on the few Lake Washington steelhead making their way up the spillway.

In 2001, author and former Seattle Times science editor Bill Dietrich wrote a good Pacific Northwest piece laying out the dilemma posed by conflicts between two protected species— salmon and sea lions: Conspicuous Consumers

I recall one salmon fisherman described the orca whales and sea lions as “taking food off my kids’ plates.” Salmon, marine mammals, fishermen— all in danger of extinction.

But I’m still trying to get into the mind of someone who would shoot a sea lion.

I was once angry enough at a raccoon who was taking my hens from the chicken coop at night that I sat in wait with a .22 rifle and a flashlight. By the time I got the ‘coon in the light and in my sights, he’d step into the darkness. After a few clumsily missed shots, it became clear that taking matters into my own hands had resulted more in comedy than anger.

There’s talk about shooting and then there’s actually taking up the weapon and shooting. Salmon can’t shoot and neither can sea lions. That’s where I have a hard time getting into the mind of the person or persons who do shoot sea lions.

Until I do, I say they can go to hell.

--Mike Sato

1 comment:

  1. I find it rather ironic that some people really believe that seals, sea lions, and whales are "taking food off their kids' plates". These same people do not stop to think that the seals, sea lions, and whales do not have the capability of going to the local store to buy food. Whatever is available in the oceans/waters is the only thing they can consume.

    The demise of the salmon has not been caused by these animals - it has been caused by us, by irresponsible logging that has created too much silt and sediment in our rivers and creeks, by human development of our shorelines, and by over fishing.

    So until we, superior, intelligent, and compassionate human beings that we claim to be, can figure out a way to cart these animals to the grocery store so they can buy cheap canned goods they can pry open with their mighty teeth - and of course give them food stamps because they cannot hold a steady job - we will have to live with the fact that they have more rights to the foods in the ocean than we do.

    Killing any wildlife because they are seen as competitors is totally stupid, selfish, immoral, and should be considered outright murder.


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