Sea Lions are overtaking Rainier, Oregon

Posted at 2:19 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 14:19:48-05

(CNN) — This small city in Oregon has a sea lion problem.

Hundreds of sea lions scouting the Columbia River for smelt have overtaken a dock in Rainier, and the number of sea lions keeps growing.

Residents have mixed reactions to their new neighbors. Some love their presence.

“This is amazing! I heard it was like this and I’m hard of hearing but I could hear them up there on the main drag,” Tina Allerdings, who was at the docks to visit the sea lions, told a CNN affiliate.

However, others, particularly the city’s fishermen, are worried the sea lions may be damaging the wooden docks. Plus, the sea lions’ bark is noisy and residents hear their cries all day.

The growing number of sea lions has shocked the area’s residents. Mike Graham, who is from a nearby city, visited the docks on Monday. He counted about 500 sea lions on the docks, he said.

“I have not seen this many sea lions before in one place,” he said. “I am worried about the damages they are making, I’ve been told they already damaged one of the docks.”

The city is working to prevent the sea lions from populating the dock, Rainier City Manager Debbie Dudley told CNN affiliate KOIN.

“Right now our workers are trying to put up some temporary-type fencing,” Dudley said. “The animals are so large that they do significant damage coming on and off the docks.”

Many locals are flocking to the river to see the growing sea lion herd, but city officials warn the creatures can be aggressive.