The House Natural Resources Committee has approved legislation to make it easier to allow the killing of California sea lions in the Columbia River. The bill introduced by Washington Congressman Doc Hastings, who chairs the committee, passed on a 22-16 vote. Hastings says Northwest electric ratepayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to protect endangered salmon migrating through Columbia River dams, only to see them fall prey to aggressive sea lions waiting at the base of Bonneville Dam and other locations. The new legislation would allow fishery managers to lethally remove up to 93 sea lions annually as is allowed now, but without a requirement to subject the sea lions to non-lethal hazing first before they can be removed. Animal rights organizations have opposed the lethal removal of sea lions, but the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife departments and the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission all support the bill.