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9th Circuit Stays Execution of 85 Sea Lions, Siding Against Salmon

Posted Apr 24, 2008 10:57 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: Their only crime was eating salmon. So execution, at least for now, is too harsh a punishment for up to 85 sea lions scheduled for extermination this year, in an effort to protect the diminishing Chinook salmon run in the Pacific Northwest.

That's what the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided yesterday, granting an injunction that had been sought by the Humane Society of the United States. However, a three-judge appellate panel agreed that the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho could proceed with plans to incarcerate 19 of the sea lions in zoos and aquariums, reports Reuters.

Their denial of the injunction is based on three key facts, the panel explains in its written opinion (PDF). First, killing the sea lions is irreparable. Second, the injunction only affects the 2008 salmon run, because the underlying case at issue should be finally resolved before next year's salmon run begins. And, third, "all parties agree that the 2008 salmon run is estimated to be large, indeed much larger than in the past several years."

The humane society "has fought a series of court battles to protect animals including circus elephants, bears, whales and chickens," the news agency notes.

Additional coverage:

The Oregonian: "Court spares salmon-scarfing sea lions"

Updated at 11:30 a.m. to add additional coverage.

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