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They Shoot Deer, Don’t They?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Eight dead sea lions — a water mammal belonging to the taxonomical grouping called pinnipeds, but known to most as “big seals” — were found washed ashore with bullet holes in their carcasses.

Sad. Sea lions are interesting if not exactly beautiful mammals.

The sentimentalist in me shudders at any such death. But, as I sit back eating a hamburger, I can’t say I am against killing non-human animals. Perhaps we should save our shudders for the  wasteful nature of the slaughter: No meat, blubber, or hide was used.Seal of Approval

The news report I read warily mentions how fishermen view sea lions — as competition. The report doesn’t mention the sea lions’ protected status: You can get into big trouble shooting a sea lion in most places.

And yet, from reports I’ve heard (and occasionally read: this is an unpopular topic for journalists to cover), these carnivorous mammals are indeed quite a problem for west coast fisheries. Oft told are tales of removing sea lions from Columbia River dams’ fish ladders, where they gorge themselves, and shipping them off to the ocean — only to have them reappear at the dams lickety-split.

An alternative to such heroic and expensive protection and removal schemes would be to manage sea lion populations with planned hunting seasons. River fish are increasingly scarce, so leaving pinniped populations unmanaged will further upset ecosystem balance.

Besides, with sea lion hunts, we would see less poaching.

After all, hunters shoot deer, don’t they? And deer are a lot prettier than sea lions.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.