Tuesday, September 06, 2016

US judge: Government can keep killing salmon-eating bird

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps Engineers can continue killing double-crested cormorants that prey on Columbia River salmon and steelhead in a move that shows just how complex the debate has become over how to best sustain imperiled fish species emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. Following the ruling made public Thursday, the Audubon Society of Portland on Friday called the decision “deeply disappointing.” Along with other groups, it contends that hydroelectric dams pose the greatest threat to the fish and says it is unnecessary to reduce the number of fish predators by shooting thousands of cormorants and spreading oil on thousands of nests to prevent cormorant eggs from hatching. Bird conservationists have said repeatedly that attempts to reduce the number of salmon killed as they pass through a complex system of hydroelectric dams and reservoirs on the Columbia and Snake rivers would help the fish more than shooting their predators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife in 2015 authorized the Corps to kill about 11,000 cormorants — or 5,600 breeding pairs — and put oil in 26,000 nests on the island. In 2015 and 2016, the Corps culled 7,086 adults birds and applied oil on 6,181 nests, according to Corps documents. The Corps stopped in May because large numbers of birds left the colony. Sallinger believes the 16,000 cormorants left because of the killings, but Fredlund said no one knows the reason or reasons...more

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