Practical Issues > Things To Do > Activism
Oppose Planned Killing of 16,000 Cormorants along the Columbia River
The scapegoating of these innocent animals redirects the public's focus from the real problems at the Columbia - overfishing, a polluted river filled with toxins, and the dam itself.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans to shoot thousands of double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River Estuary beginning next year.
Much like California sea lions at the Columbia River, cormorants are being targeted simply because they eat salmon. Federal officials are claiming that these seabirds, protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, eat too many juvenile salmon, as well as steelhead, as the fish migrate through the river estuary to the Pacific Ocean. The proposed cull program would claim the lives of 16,000 cormorants over the course of four years, with killing taking place during the birds' nesting seasons. Oil will also be spread over cormorant eggs to suffocate the eggs and ensure that they do not hatch. While the Army Corps emphasizes the increase in the East Sand Island double-crested cormorant population in recent years, populations of these birds in general have been declining and the sustainability of this large-scale cull is questionable at best.
Sea Shepherd's Dam Guardians were on the frontlines along the Columbia River
and at the Bonneville Dam in 2012 and 2013, documenting the hazing, trapping and
cruel branding of sea lions by the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish &
Wildlife for the "crime" of eating salmon. If any of the branded sea lions are
determined to be eating "too many" salmon, they are killed - and the federal
government has allowed these states to kill up to 92 federally protected sea
lions each year until June 2016. It is important to note that "too many salmon"
might constitute just one salmonid. The sea lion cull continues, despite the
fact that they consume only 1-4% of the salmon, while fisheries are typically
allowed to take 10-12%.
The Army Corps reports that non-lethal methods - including "hazing with lights, reducing nesting habitat, and using human presence to flush double-crested cormorants off potential nesting sites" - have been tested. Sea Shepherd has documented bird hazers from the USDA harassing cormorants along the river, frightening the birds with explosives.
Just as the taxpayer-funded culling of sea lions at the Bonneville Dam will not solve the problem of a declining salmon population, nor will the shooting and killing of cormorants - set to cost up to $1.5 million each year of the four-year cull. The scapegoating of these innocent animals redirects the public's focus from the real problems at the Columbia - overfishing, a polluted river filled with toxins, and the dam itself.
CALL TO ACTION: Though Sea Shepherd does not currently have Dam Guardians on the ground, we remain dedicated to protecting the animals who call the Columbia River home and exposing the true threats to this endangered salmon population. Please join us in speaking out against the planned killing of 16,000 cormorants for the "crime" of eating salmon. Here are ways you can help:
1) Attend one or both of the upcoming public meetings scheduled by the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the proposed cull to show that you stand with the cormorants and the sea lions, as well as the salmon:
July 10 from 2:30pm to 5:30pm PT
July 24 from 3pm to 6pm
2) Submit public comments against the cull:
The deadline for public comments is August 4, 2014.