Fisherman charged with trying to kill sea lion

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By Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Rainier man faces federal misdemeanor charges of trying to kill a sea lion last April as it swam in the Multnomah Channel of the Willamette River off Sauvie Island.

In court papers filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors allege James Housley, 62, violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act by "harassing and attempting to kill a sea lion" by shooting at the animal.

The violation carries a prison sentence of up to one year and up to $100,000 in fines.

Federal prosecutors say Housley was fishing and became frustrated that a sea lion had taken a salmon off a companion's line and shot the animal twice in the head on April 18. The animal was seriously wounded and in distress. It's not known whether it survived the shooting.

In an earlier case, a fine and suspension of fishing privileges are pending final action from the U.S. attorney's office in Portland against a Portland man who pleaded guilty to harassing a marine mammal for shooting a sea lion while fishing near the Sellwood Bridge on the Willamette River in 2005.

Earlier this spring, U.S. Reps. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and Brian Baird, D-Wash., proposed a bill making it easier to kill the most aggressive of the sea lions.

The animals have been blamed for taking a large chunk out of already shaky salmon runs. The mammals have been congregating just below Bonneville Dam where salmon get in line to swim up the fish ladders.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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