After hearing “representatives of the State’s commercial fishermen, as well as sportsmen, as to the huge amount of destruction the sea-lions were causing,” the California Division of Fish and Game announced a program of reducing the herds of California and Steller sea-lions of the California coast by one-half. The sportsmen and fishermen contended that these interesting sea mammals are taking fish they want for themselves, and the fishermen claimed that their nets were being torn or destroyed.
This plan of sea-lion persecution is the latest of similar efforts undertaken after hearing only one side of the story. Yet the other side is amply available through factual information on the life and feeding habits of the animals. In fact, the very agency that now sets out to destroy sea-lions on such flimsy and prejudiced evidence published this information-and now chooses to ignore it.
The California sea-lion is the animal that has endeared itself to millions as the “trained seal” of circus, stage and zoo. It and its condemned relative, the Steller sea-lion, are a part of our native wild fauna, occupying their proper place in Nature’s scheme. They were long the objects of systematic persecution, and by 1909 the California sea-lions had been so seriously reduced that legislation for their protection was passed in response to public demand.
Since that time the animals have increased to an estimated total of some 8,000 individuals, of both species, resident on islands off California’s coast. The majority is found on lighthouse islands, giving the proposed persecution a Federal angle. Had, however, the California Division of Fish and Game wished to approach this issue impartially, it need only to have gone to its own files.
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