The mobile monitoring station will allow activists to stay out at the dam full time, watching the traps, the ODFW agents, and potential vigilantes. Monitors will observe and document all activities out there, and will alert reinforcements if and when needed. Defenders intend to enforce strict adherence to the Marine Mammal Protection Act by all parties, and will be holding *everyone* - government agents and otherwise - accountable for their actions up there.
Already, some new information is coming to light. Within days after the station was launched, monitors observed an ODFW boat approaching all four traps. Someone got out at each one, and placed something in each trap. Monitors report that it appears that the traps are being baited. This could answer some nagging questions around how ODFW managed to trap and kill 5 sea lions in a single day last week. Not very sportsmanlike, but then, nothing about this program has been fair to the sea lions to date.
So far, response from the community to the presence of the Sea Wolf on the river has been very positive. According to monitors who are in place at the dam, people have been stopping by to introduce themselves and to chat, and they have all been quite friendly. There have been a few scowls and dirty looks from the occasional fisherman, but for the most part, critics have not actually stopped by to engage in any conversation with monitors. However, they are welcome to do so. One of the functions of the monitoring station is to allow sea lion defenders to provide public education about the important role of sea lions in the Columbia river ecosystem, and about the natural and long-standing relationship between salmon and sea lions in the region. Sea lion defenders are just as concerned about salmon as we are about sea lions, which is one of the central reasons why we are in opposition to the lethal removal program - we want to see resources and energy directed toward programs that offer real solutions, not mere symbolic window dressing that is proving harmful to salmon and deadly to sea lions. The lethal removal program is not working, according to the government's own research. Respected biologists told them before the program even began that it would do nothing to save any salmon at all, and government biologists' own reports are now bearing this out with data collected since the killing began. So the deaths taking place on the traps are unnecessary, futile, and tragic. And it is long past time for them to stop.
Fishermen who have questions or concerns about the monitoring program, or about the defense of sea lions are encouraged to stop by and discuss their concerns with monitors at the Sea Wolf. The monitors are friendly people who aren't going to chase anyone away. (You may find you have more in common with them than you thought.) Even if you think you disagree with the mission of the sea lion defenders, we welcome your respectful discourse and will be happy to talk with you about your concerns: about salmon, about sea lions, and about our reasons for defending all of the wildlife left in our region.
And for those of you who understand that the sea lions do not deserve to be murdered for the crime of eating, we're looking for volunteers. We could use more monitors at the dam (and if you live near Astoria we need monitors near the traps there too). If you're interested in helping to save the sea lions of the Columbia, please call the Sea Lion Defense Brigade at (503)568-6955.