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CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- A boat crew armed with seal bombs and shotguns loaded with firecrackers took to the Willamette River Monday, with the mission of trying to keep sea lions from chowing down on salmon.

Many salmon gets jammed up at Willamette Falls. The hazing was set up to help the threatened spring chinook and winter steelhead get past the sea lions to spawn.

Sea lions trap them against the falls and we are trying to move sea lions away from there long enough for the fish to find the ladder and move across, explained Rick Swart with the Oregon Dept. of Fish And Wildlife.

The hazing started in 2010 but was suspended last year for lack of money. The Legislature recently authorized $113,000 more in funding, for a boat and crew to work over the next three months. Similar efforts have been going on for years at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia.

State officials said as many as 21 sea lions were at the falls in 2011, where biologists estimate they can each eat four to seven fish a day.

Swart said the hazing program has been effective in keeping the lions away from the thousands of fish that gather in front of the ladder. However, it is unknown if the program has taught learned behavior.

Funding for a renewed program will be up for consideration after April.

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