Red Seals in the Sunset

Back in 2010, fisherman Larry Legans was having some luck on the Sacramento River, not far from the state capitol, when a sea lion began raiding his catch. Legans duly shot the animal, for which he faced three years in prison and a $70,000 in fines. The sea lion, which locals dubbed “Sgt. Nevis,” recovered from his wounds and found a home at Six Flags Kingdom in Vallejo. Sea lions on the government’s hit list had no such luck. That year, Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife teamed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to target sea lions they believed were eating too much salmon. In 2019, the government continues to kill California sea lions, (Zalophus californianus) which can reach lengths of more than seven feet and weigh more than 700 pounds.

“Wildlife officials in Oregon have begun killing California sea lions that are eating too many of a type of vulnerable fish,” reports The Hill. The sea lions “can be killed if they are observed eating at least one steelhead near Willamette Falls between Nov. 1 and Aug. 15 or been spotted along the same stretch of river for two consecutive days.” Unlike Mr. Legans, nobody will be fined or imprisoned for killing the animals. They are not “euthanized” as the government claims. These were healthy animals that government officials executed for eating too many fish.

As we noted in 2012, the U.S. Forest Service has killed beavers, (Castor canadensis) for the crime of building dams, their natural activity. In several western states, the U.S Fish and Wildlife service was gunning for barred owls (Strix varia) which they view as an invasive species and overly voracious eater from the east. It was all part of an effort to save the celebrated northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), the object of federal protection.

Government conducts the same activity for which it prosecutes private citizens, an obvious and unacceptable double standard. Government tries to call the activity something it is not, and the presumption of superior knowledge only confirms ineptitude. As massive federal and state deficits confirm, government has great difficulty balancing a checkbook. Federal and state animal killings are evidence that government can’t balance nature either.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
Posts by K. Lloyd Billingsley | Full Biography and Publications
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