by Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland
Further to my ANIMALS 24-7 posting of September 14, 2015, Feds resume killing cormorants despite admitting “nesting population targets were met, for the past two weeks, federal government employees from the Wildlife Services office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been shooting double-crested cormorants from a boat in the Columbia River Estuary near East Sand Island.
Shotgun blasts have been audible from shore. Observers on shore have also been able to see three federal employees moving about in a small boat shooting cormorants out of the sky and collecting them from the water with nets. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the operation, reports that they have shot 863 double-crested cormorants and 10 non-target Brandt’s cormorants in the past two weeks. The Corps intends to continue the shooting into the fall in order to achieve their goal of killing more than 4,000 double-crested cormorants this season.
Oregon Public Broadcasting was able to get the first footage of the killings earlier this week. It is now posted on their website: http://www.opb.org/news/article/first-video-cormorant-killings-columbia-river/. (Stills taken from that footage illustrate this ANIMALS 24-7 guest column.)
Until now, the killing activity has been shrouded in secrecy. The Corps has repeatedly turned down requests from the media and public interest groups requesting that independent observers be allowed to witness the lethal control activity. The Corps has hidden behind the absurd argument that secrecy is necessary to protect the birds that they are trying to kill.
(Previously the government agents were shooting birds at night on their nests using high powered rifles and night vision goggles).
The Corps claims that killing double-crested cormorants is necessary to help recover federally listed salmon. However, an analysis released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August 2015 under a federal court order, show that killing cormorants will do nothing to help recover salmon. Audubon has called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw the permits it issued to the Corps to kill cormorants and initiate an investigation into why the agency suppressed its own internal analysis.
For more information on the cormorant killing at East Sand Island: http://audubonportland.org/issues/habitat/sand-island
Audubon Society of Portland