On May 4 , the blubbery carcasses of six sea lions were discovered inside a trap at Bonneville Dam in Oregon. Animal rights advocates suspected they'd been murdered as part of a long-standing dispute over the complicated ethics of wildlife management.
It began in the late 1990s, when hungry sea lions from the coast started traveling 145 miles up the Columbia River and decimating a local population of endangered Chinook salmon.
The truth is that thorny ethical questions like this one can sometimes be avoided altogether. In the dispute over the Columbia River, conservationists and animal rights advocates alike believe that the real problem at Bonneville Dam is the existence of Bonneville Dam. Without that man-made structure, the salmon would not face the bottlenecks that prevent many from getting to their spawning grounds, and sea lions would not find themselves perishing inside a metal trap. So, the one thing we can all agree on is our own misanthropy: We shouldn't be holding animals accountable for the damage humans have wrought.
Slate Magazine, May 29, 2008, 2:20pm, obtained via: