The California sea lion faces a number of threats, most notably through human-animal conflict and climate change. In the 19th and early 20th centuries California sea lions were extensively killed for commercial purposes, and although later afforded some protection, were still killed in large numbers until hunting was banned between 1969 and 1972. Population numbers have now recovered, but growing numbers are being killed in fishing nets. California sea lions are also increasingly thought to be damaging commercial fish stocks and in 1999 the federal National Marine Fisheries Service released a report recommending that Congress allow wildlife managers to kill California sea lions that are preying on endangered fish species (6). California sea lions are also negatively affected byEl Niño, which causes a shortage in food supply and increased mortality (2). Other causes of mortality include infection, disease, poisoning, pollution and toxic phytoplankton blooms (2) (6).
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