Officials at five dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers will start killing birds that eat migrating juvenile salmon. They are meant to protect endangered salmon and steelhead as they begin their journey out to sea.
This is the first time in 20 years that dam managers say they have had to kill fish-eating birds at the dams.
“Research studies have shown that the fish-eating birds consume significant numbers of juvenile salmon and steelhead at the dams,” said Bruce Hendrickson, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hendrickson says officials will first try non-lethal hazing. That includes deterrents like water spray cannons, pyrotechnics, and noisemakers.
Henrickson says birds will only be shot if they continue eating salmon after the hazing.
The Corps has permits to “take,” or kill, ring-billed gulls, California gulls, and double-crested cormorants. The birds are not endangered or threatened.
Other dams on the Columbia River system use non-lethal hazing to deter fish-eating birds.
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