When my family and I moved to Astoria in 2001, there were about half the number of sea lions lounging in the mooring basin as there are now. We live on Franklin Avenue and have a great view of the basin. We got used to the noise and liked the presence of wildlife, which is one reason we moved here.
It was obvious to us the sea lions were an attraction as well. After attending a Port of Astoria meeting last month, I understand that there are twice as many sea lions there now. Its much noisier and we wear earplugs to bed.
Even so, I was horrified and revolted to read the article at SeaShepherd.org, More than 30 sea lions captured and branded at Port of Astoria by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, about the trapping, branding and killing of sea lions, including the babies, the setting on fire of some of them and the near sinking and possible drowning of a cage full of trapped sea lions because the trappers forced too many animals into it and it could have sunk.
The article said that some of the animals had seizures because of this. Surely this kind of terrorizing and inflicting of pain on living beings is wrong.
I dont believe the sea lions are largely responsible for the decline of salmon, that has already been proven. This type of scapegoating of defenseless animals is heinous.
I dont think of myself as one of those animal people, as one commissioner of the Port referred to anyone who speaks up for sea lions. Nor am I one of those bleeding heart liberals who thinks the government should take care of every problem.
However, history has shown that it is doubtful that the Port of Astoria will do anything forward-thinking about this problem. Surely the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife are breaking some kind of animal cruelty laws doing this to federally protected animals.
Who will speak up for defenseless animals being tortured and injured by the very government agencies that are supposed to protect them, if not the concerned people of Astoria?