Panel looks to reduce sea lions' threat to endangered salmon

Panel looks to reduce sea lions' threat to endangered salmon
A bird soars over a sea lion in the Columbia River near the Bonnevile Dam Tuesday, May 10, 2011, near Stevenson Wash. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal lawmakers are considering making it easier for states and Indian tribes to kill some of the California sea lions that feast on endangered salmon in the Columbia River.

The population of California sea lions has steadily grown over the past three decades and now numbers nearly 250,000. About 75 make their way upriver to feed on salmon. They congregate near the Bonneville Dam on the border of Oregon and Washington.

The House Natural Resource Committee was expected to pass legislation Wednesday that would establish a framework for obtaining a permit that would allow a state or tribe to kill up to 10 sea lions in a single year.

Supporters of the legislation say it is needed to simplify and speed up the application process for lethally removing sea lions.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.