February 9, 2015
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Federal officials are proposing a radical plan to help save Columbia River salmon: killing over 11,000 double-crested cormorants that have been eating too many of the young fish.
According to a report published Sunday by Tech Times, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ plan revealed Friday would also involve spraying vegetable oil on the birds’ eggs to keep them from hatching. The plan would reduce the size of the large black seabirds over the next four years.
The cormorants have been consuming a greater-than-expected amount of salmon and steelhead trout in the Oregon area, the engineers explained. The plan, which comes in the form of a final Environmental Impact Statement, was selected over a similar plan that would result in the killing of 18,000 of the birds by 2018, the website added.
Federal studies indicate that the cormorants consume 11 million juvenile salmon and steelhead each year, according to the Associated Press. Both species are protected under the Endangered Species Act. In 1989, only 100 nesting pairs of cormorants were on the island, but that number has exploded. Currently, more than 15,000 breeding pairs of cormorants live there.
US Army Corps spokeswoman Diana Fredlund called it “a difficult situation,” telling Reuters, “We are trying to balance the salmon and steelhead vs. the birds. It’s very difficult to find the right answer and so it’s taken us a long time. We’ve had a lot of experts working on it.”