(CN) – The 9th Circuit has refused to stop the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho from trapping and killing California sea lions that prey on endangered salmon at the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam.
In a three-page order, a panel of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court declined to issue a stay sought by the Humane Society of the United States. The society opposed the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to authorize three states to “lethally remove” up to 85 sea lions per year.
The court found that the Humane Society’s arguments are unlikely to prevail.
The states argued that the plan was necessary, because sea lions eat up to about 4.2 percent of the salmon run.
The Humane Society countered that fishermen and dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers kill more fish than sea lions do, and that cutting back on fishing would offset the amount of salmon and steelhead fish killed by sea lions.
The 9th Circuit’s decision was limited to whether the lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment to the states was arbitrary and capricious.
“Given the narrow and deferential standard of review, and the district court’s well-reasoned decision … we conclude that appellants have not met their burden of demonstrating a likelihood of success on the merits,” the appeals court wrote.