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Sea lions continue to eat big fish near Willamette Falls

People are upset after a photo of a sea lion eating a large sturgeon near Willamette Falls surfaced. But not everyone thinks killing the sea lions is the right answer

Pictures of a sea lion eating a sturgeon Sunday, near the I-205 bridge in the Willamette River outraged fishermen, again.

Brian Losee snapped the pictures from the West Linn side of the river and spread them far and wide to let the world know what fishermen see here.

Sturgeon can live to be 100 years old and it infuriates many that they're being eaten by California sea lions.

Bruce Polley is with the Coastal Conservation Association of Oregon which fights to protect wild fish.

“These big, 60-year-old female sturgeon, there's not that many of them in the whole system and they're important for breeders. And yes, seeing those big fish being eaten by sea lions is really heartbreaking,” he said.

His group lobbied successfully with others to give Oregon the right to kill sea lions in the Willamette River.

The state of Oregon declared sea lions near Willamette Falls are a threat to steelhead and said they could push the upper river native steelhead to extinction.

Which is why the state is now catching and killing any sea lion found between the 205 bridge and Willamette Falls.

Scott Christiansen who was walking his dog, Casper, said that it makes sense to him to kill the sea lions found there.

“If you have to get rid of a few of them, I guess that's what's gonna have to happen. You gotta have fish come up the river. They gotta spawn,” he said.

Anna Miller agreed.

“I think it's a good idea because then we have more salmon in the river and possibly more babies coming,” she said.

But killing one animal in the river to save another is troubling to many like John Owens who power walked along the river.

“I know that sea lions are a problem for the fish but I don't -- I just have this feeling that sea lions and the fish co-existed for a long time and the problems fish are having are caused by men,” he said.

Regardless, mankind is now trying to solve the problem by catching and killing as many sea lions as possible near Willamette Falls.

The state has authorization to kill as many as 93 of the animals but so far has killed just four.

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