Big Trouble On Little Sand Island

The island in the Columbia River at Astoria is mostly man-made, the result of having to dump dredging spoils somewhere. Here in the Portland area, the US Army Corps of Engineers has routinely dumped on Sauvie Island, but down around Astoria, they just kind of built a new island. Now, that’s a problem. Cormorants and terns, which usually live further west at the actual coast, have decided that the island’s a great spot for nesting and feeding on salmon smolts.

So the USACOE has decided that the best course of action is to murder around 16,000 birds, in order to resolve a problem that they created. As you might expect, the nutters in Clatsop County are again outraged (many of them seem to be founding members of Our Lady of Perpetual Outrage).

Yes, USACOE created the problem. But the birds were an unexpected side-effect. They live on the coast, not in the river. Generally. But here they are, and they’re decimating an endangered species. Worse for them – the birds aren’t themselves endangered. So the USACOE plan is to shoot ’em. Oh, you better believe there’s a problem:

“This is a crazy, crude and needlessly cruel plan that should go right back to the drawing board,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “This operation represents an extreme militarization of wildlife management. Cormorants do not need to be treated like terrorists simply because they eat fish.”

How is it “needlessly cruel” to shoot a bird? They die quickly and humanely. Would Jeffy prefer that they be captured and hanged?

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About maxredlines

experience: biology, zoology, psychology. authored/co-authored papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous professional proceedings. authored articles appearing in computer-oriented publications. featured in publications ranging from books to New Yorker magazine to television.
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