PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Oregon wildlife officials have started killing sea lions that threaten a fragile run of winter steelhead in the Willamette River.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the state Department of Fish and Wildlife obtained a federal permit in November to kill up to 93 California sea lions per year below Willamette Falls south of Portland.

Department program manager Bryan Wright says the state plans to kill about 40 sea lions that frequent the falls by May.

He says the number of sea lions that return to the river should drop to single digits following the killings.

Officials have so far killed three of the animals.

Wildlife officials relocated about a dozen sea lions to the coast last year, but the animals ended up swimming back to Willamette Falls.

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