Even among those who seek to protect wildlife above all, there are moments of great conflict. One of those moments is playing out near Portland, Ore., as sea lions gorge on endangered chinook salmon that gather at the base of the Bonneville Dam, preparing to make their way up the fish ladders to spawn. Last week and this, wildlife officials have killed six of the most incorrigible of the animals, which have refused to be dissuaded by noise, rubber bullets or other harassing techniques.
As regrettable as the dilemma is, the government made the right choice. The population of California sea lions, the kind mainly responsible for the salmon-fest, has been burgeoning, while chinook salmon have presented policymakers with a persistent conservation problem. Their numbers along the Columbia River and elsewhere have been falling, and several runs of the fish are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
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