portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting oregon & cascadia

animal rights

More Blood on the Water: Another Sea Lion Dead

Apparently, yet another sea lion was put to death on the Columbia last week. Sea Lion Defense Brigadiers only learned of the death today. A sea lion branded C643 was executed by the state as he lay immobilized in a tiny crate, a short distance from his native waters in the Columbia. Two others were also trapped in the "infallible" killer traps, and are scheduled to be shipped off to a life of captivity in a Chicago zoo.
Details are very thin regarding the death of this latest casualty in the war against nature that is happening on the Columbia river. While thousands of fishermen clog the waterways in their rush to kill salmon, the State has executed another sea lion for the crime of eating fish. This is the latest of ten sea lions killed so far in state custody since wildlife "managers" sought a Section 120 waiver to the Marine Mammal Protection Act last year. Here is the rest of the death list:

C643 - Killed by the state, March 20th, 2009.
C635 - killed by the state, March 13th, 2009.
C265 - killed by the state, March 12th, 2009.
C347 - Killed in State custody, in the traps, May 2008.
B198 - Died in state custody April of 2008 after being mis-handled and kept anesthetized too long.
C672 - killed in the traps, May 2008. This sea lion was not even on the hit list.
Unbranded, Unknown California Sea lion - Killed in traps, May 2008.
Unbranded, Unknown California Sea Lion - Killed in traps, May 2008.
Unknown, Endangered Steller Sea Lion - Killed in traps, May 2008.
Unknown, Endangered Steller Sea Lion - Killed in traps, May, 2008.

Will the list keep growing? Or will you act to stop this.

Regarding the deaths of C265 and C635, the state claims these animals "had" to be killed, that it was simply a matter of "humane euthanasia." But here is what you need to know about the state's "humane euthanasia" claims.

First, you should know that around 40% of the sea lions on the Columbia have a virus that is similar to viruses that humans can get, such as chicken pox or herpes. It is not transmissible to humans. Most of the sea lions who get this disease will live normal lives, just as most humans who contract chicken pox or herpes go on to live normal lives. Like the human papilloma virus, this virus can predispose some animals to a form of cancer. This is the cancer that State and Federal officials have referenced in their slick press releases, in which they stated that the animals had to be "humanely euthanized," for their own good. But what the State did not say is that only a small percentage of the animals who have the virus go on to contract cancer. Most do not.

There are parallels with human viruses. As noted above, people who contract the human papilloma virus can go on to contract cancer, but not all people who get the virus get cancer. Similarly, some people who contract herpes go on to develop a nasal carcinoma. But most people who have herpes do not. This is what the sea lions are dealing with: They have a virus that is about as common as a lot of viruses that humans have. It's something they can live with, without significant impact to their quality of life. (Which explains why the sea lions put to death for this so far have been strapping and healthy animals.)

Officials have been deliberately spreading disinformation about this disease, in an effort to make the executions more palatable to the public. But these sea lions should not have died, and did not have to die. Some ODFW officials have stated, categorically, that the presence of the virus means the animals would have contracted cancer, 100% of the time. This is simply not true. Eighty-two percent of sea lions who have this virus never go on to contract the cancer. So dismissing these killings as "humane" and "necessary" is appallingly disingenuous, and we have the right to expect better from our State representatives. We are paying their salaries, and we deserve honesty from them.

For more information about what you can do to stop the death list before it grows, please contact the Sea Lion Defense Brigade at  info@sealiondefensebrigade.org, or call IDA at 503-249-9996.