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Hundreds of cormorants shot to protect Columbia salmon

Herald and News 5/29/15
 

     In just a few days time, 109 federally protected birds have been killed on East Sand Island and 1,769 nests destroyed.

   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began its long-discussed plan over the weekend to eliminate more than half of the double-crested cormorants that nest near the Columbia Riverís mouth.

   The birds have preyed for years on millions of baby salmon making their way to the ocean. Some of the fish are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The corps announced plans in June 2014 to kill the cormorants after ruling out nonlethal options that it claimed were not guaranteed to rid the island of the birds, or could result in shifting the problem elsewhere.

   A team from the U.S. Department of Agricultureís Wildlife Services is culling birds with rifles and spreading oil over nests to prevent hatching. The intention is to continue the process through August and eliminate 3,489 birds and 9,368 nests this season. Long-term, the corps plans to reduce the population from 14,000 breeding pairs to 5,600 by 2018.  

   Some conservation groups, including the Audubon Society of Portland, have criticized the measures. They argue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ignored the real detriment to salmon, the hydroelectric dams

 

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