Beautiful (If Stinky) Astoria, Oregon

In the 1950s, there were around 10,000 California sea lions on the entire west coast. Today, there are around 300,000. The time has probably arrived to stop protecting them and start actively managing the populations of these half-ton critters. Of course, some people will have a problem with that, because they’re uninformed and basically stupid.

In addition to chomping fish (contrary to what the activists tell you, the sea lions don’t actually take just an occasional salmon in order to survive; they take a chomp out of one, and then a chomp out of another…and another…and another, leaving a trail of mortally wounded fish in their wake), they also exact a heavy toll these days from taxpayers’ wallets. At the Port of Astoria docks, they’ve had as many as 1600 of the beasts haul out; broken water lines, electrical lines, and overloaded flotation systems have been among the “natural” results.

And then there’s the occasional aggressive bull, to say nothing of the overwhelming layers of sea lion crap painting the docks. So the Port, having spent some $100,000 in the past year to repair damage, has taken the step of installing fluttering ribbons of hunter orange along the docks to discourage the animals from hauling out. Naturally, some folks have a problem with that:

But Ninette Jones is not happy with the orange tape. She believes the port should embrace the sea lions as a tourist attraction.

“We are so lucky to have these animals here, to create a safe space for them, a space where they can lie in the sun for days and get respite,” said sea lion advocate Jones.

Yeah, right, Ninny. Go “advocate” in your back yard; “create a safe space for them” there, already. The docks are public resources, built by and paid for by people, and they aren’t able to handle 50,000 pounds of crapping blubber, let alone one million six hundred thousand pounds of it. If you want to see sea lions, drive on down to the Stellar sea lion cave in Florence, Oregon. Or if California sea lions are your thing, go visit Newport.

But trust me on this: California sea lions aren’t going to galvanize tourism in Astoria. And the animals sure as hell don’t need your “advocacy” – the numbers speak for themselves.

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About maxredlines

experience: biology, zoology, psychology. authored/co-authored papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous professional proceedings. authored articles appearing in computer-oriented publications. featured in publications ranging from books to New Yorker magazine to television.
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4 Responses to Beautiful (If Stinky) Astoria, Oregon

  1. g says:

    Fortunately the current commissioners will more than likely ignore the Ninster. This is one attitude that hasn’t changed from commission to commission. We have all looked for solutions to chase these pests off. The main problem is they are federally protected. Until that changes, lethal action (which imho is the only action that will work) is allowed, there won’t be much change.

    We have tried every means of persuasion to try to get them to leave.

    The Port needs to spend it’s money on other things. This is a tremendous waste of resources and money.

    Solution = bullets.

    • maxredlines says:

      Pretty much what I said at the beginning: with 300,000 of them along the coast, we need to stop protecting them and start active management. If that means bullets, I view it as something to feed the great whites.

      I’ve always wondered, though, why you guys don’t simply run New Zealand hot-wire along the docks. It’s not very expensive, but it’s highly effective when it comes to large animal control. Of course, you’d need to come up with a way to ensure that you don’t zap any people (apart from the Ninster and her ilk), but that’s doable – people don’t usually hang off the side of the docks (and you could always post a few warning signs advising against doing so), so I’d just run NZ wire along the edges. The animals are going to have to contact it when trying to haul out, and it’s especially effective on a wet critter.

      Years ago, at another house, I had a problem with starlings invading the platform I’d set up for feeding native birds. I hate starlings. So I got some display wire, which is really light and thin; it’s used to hang lightweight displays in stores, which is something I did at the time. Ran two strands far enough apart that chickadee feet wouldn’t contact ’em both but starling feet would, and hooked them up to a toy train transformer. Worked like a charm.

  2. lectorconstans says:

    Maybe if little Ninette would embrace one of those sea lions……

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