The federal Army Corps of Engineers is holding public meetings this week in Portland and Astoria to discuss what to do about double-crested cormorants eating protected salmon in the Columbia River estuary.
The largest cormorant colony in Western North America lies near the mouth of the Columbia River on East Sand Island.
As their numbers grow, the birds are eating more and more of the young salmon and steelhead headed to the ocean.
Brad Eppard is a fish biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He estimates cormorants ate 20 to 25 million juvenile salmon and steelhead last year.
He explained,"In terms of percentages, though the entire power system we've estimated survival at 53 percent for yearling chinook, hatchery and wild, survival from Lower Granite Dam to Bonneville Dam. The percentage of juvenile salmon being eaten by cormorants is right around 18 percent."
The Corps has proposed options to reduce the loss of fish to cormorants. They include moving the colony, hazing the birds or maybe even killing some of them.
Find more on this and other environmental news on Cassandra's Ecotrope blog.