Local conservation groups fight to save thousands of Cormorants - KPTV - FOX 12

Local conservation groups fight to save thousands of Cormorants from being killed

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The Audubon Society of Portland is now joining the fight to save thousands of birds that are slated to be killed along the Columbia River.

The bird at the center of this controversy is the Double-crested Cormorant.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the birds need to be killed to protect salmon. 

The Army Corps has already started killing the birds. It's management plan calls for shooting thousands of adults in the air and in their nests, and pouring vegetable oil over nests with eggs to suffocate them.

East Sand Island, just off the coast of Astoria is home to the largest breeding colony of Double-crested Cormorants in North America, nearly 13,000 birds.

The Army Corps wants to cut that number to about 5,000 birds.

The whole operation is designed to protect salmon, which are the Cormorant's favorite snack and are an endangered species. But the Wildlife Center, along with groups like the Audubon Society, think it's the wrong approach.

The Wildlife Center said newly released Fish and Wildlife Service documents were uncovered under court order showing that killing Cormorants would have no beneficial impact on the Columbia River salmon and steelhead.

"The fact that the Fish and Wildlife Service would permit the taking of 15% of the entire western population is significant in its own right. The fact that they would allow it to happen knowing that it would be completely ineffective is outrageous," said Bob Sallinger with Audubon Society of Portland.

The bird management plan will be carried out over the next four years.

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