RAINIER, Ore. – Sea lions have taken over a public dock in Rainier, a small city on the Columbia River.

Hundreds of the marine mammals are camping out on the docks, and scouting the river for smelt. There appears to be a large run of smelt that is attracting the sea lions upriver in a big way.

“What we’ve seen this year so far and last year is a resurgence of smelt and the sea lions are here taking advantage of that. I think that’s a good thing because if they’re not taking the smelt then they’re taking the sturgeon and salmon,” said KGW’s Grant McOmie. McOmie is a journalist and host of Grant’s Getaways, specializing in outdoor activities.

The gathering of sea lions is a loud, boisterous spectacle. Dan Beavers ,of Longview, stopped by with his wife and mother-in-law to witness it.

“I’d hate to see them shoot a bunch of them, it’s their river, they were here first,” said Beavers.

Federal law only allows for hazing of the animals, to try to get them to go somewhere else.

Rainier’s mayor would like the sea lions to swim away from his town. He says they’ve damaged the dock and other equipment to the tune of at least $25,000 dollars in just two weeks.

“I’m not gonna lie, it’s really interesting to see the sea lions, but what the city is worried about is all the damage that it’s causing,” said Mayor Jerry Cole.

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