If we applied the logic we are applying to the relatively new problem of the 75 or so California sea lions that swim up the Columbia River to feed on salmon that get bunched up at the fish ladder awaiting their first turn at traversing our speed bumps, we would be passing laws that allow us to kill people legally in the name of salmon recovery. Why? Because we are the primary reason for salmon decline, but sea lions ate something like 5,000 returning adult salmon or some round about number like that and by golly we are going to fix every problem we run into other than the actual problem and these cute sea lions are on the radar screen.
To take a cynical approach to this, it's like we want to be the only species on the planet allowed to exterminate salmon. It reminds me of how conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh used to pick NFL games by determining which team's mascot would have the most environmental support.
This salmon versus sea lions is exactly that, and my question is (since we already have determined the only good northern pikeminnow is a dead one and now we want that to be the same for any sea lion found swimming up the Columbia River) when do we turn on killer whales? When do we turn on ourselves? When do we place the Wanted Dead poster on aquaculture? Because you see, I know we will never turn it on the dams. We would never consider doing something that would actually make a difference for salmon recovery, well, at least not our precious giant federal dams that we've located on the most important migratory habitat for our salmon. Sure, we'll knock down these other dams, but nothing on the mainstem of the Snake River or Columbia for that matter.
We are moving colonies of birds because they eat salmon and the only reason we have to move them is because we created the perfect place for them to live by our incessant need to "improve nature." We harass, move and kill sea lions and we have bounties on northern pikeminnow and we do all of this in the name of saving the salmon. All the while we know what the primary culprits in the ongoing salmon slaughter are; dams. And we will literally move heaven and earth to keep our dams and pretend we mean to recover salmon.
Heaven help the next nonhuman we identify as a killer of salmon. The second we do, your days are numbered.
This is literally like the doctor who focuses on a few paper cuts while the patient is lying there on the gurney impaled by a flag pole. "Eh, the flag looks nice, but get me a small bandage stat because this man has a paper cut!"
This whole sea lion vs. salmon is just another convenient distraction to true salmon recovery and you have noted that those who fake they are working toward salmon recovery have jumped on this with glee. Anything to distract you from the real issue (dams killing salmon) and you can bet the federal agencies, the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho are going to be right there getting you to rationalize something that truly proves we have gone completely insane.
There are two sane approaches we can have here, one is a thoughtful, concerted effort to mitigate for salmon recovery (in other words we figure out better ways to generate power and provide cheap transport) and remove the dams or the other sane approach is we abandon salmon recovery, we admit we want our dams and the salmon be damned. This approach we have gets more and more foolish with every passing moment.
I have always said it wouldn't surprise me if someone at NOAA or BPA or elsewhere suggested we place leashes on all salmon and walk them to and from the ocean as our latest effort to save them. That suggestion doesn't surprise me in light of all the crazy things we have done to date.
Boil this issue down, dams are killing salmon (that's the main problem for the past 35-70 years). Can we live without the dams? Can we live without the salmon? I can live without the dams, I cannot live without the salmon. You have a choice to make, I want that choice made sooner rather than later. Do we secure food for the species or for our machines? It's not a hard choice when you frame it correctly.