CALL TO ACTION: Oppose the Planned Killing of 16,000 Cormorants Along the Columbia River

Cormorants are being targeted simply because they eat salmonCormorants are being targeted simply
because they eat salmon
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans to shoot thousands of double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River Estuary beginning next year.

Much like California sea lions at the Columbia River, cormorants are being targeted simply because they eat salmon. Federal officials are claiming that these seabirds, protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, eat too many juvenile salmon, as well as steelhead, as the fish migrate through the river estuary to the Pacific Ocean. The proposed cull program would claim the lives of 16,000 cormorants over the course of four years, with killing taking place during the birds’ nesting seasons. Oil will also be spread over cormorant eggs to suffocate the eggs and ensure that they do not hatch. While the Army Corps emphasizes the increase in the East Sand Island double-crested cormorant population in recent years, populations of these birds in general have been declining and the sustainability of this large-scale cull is questionable at best.

Sea Shepherd’s Dam Guardians were on the frontlines along the Columbia River and at the Bonneville Dam in 2012 and 2013, documenting the hazing, trapping and cruel branding of sea lions by the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish & Wildlife for the “crime” of eating salmon. If any of the branded sea lions are determined to be eating “too many” salmon, they are killed – and the federal government has allowed these states to kill up to 92 federally protected sea lions each year until June 2016. It is important to note that “too many salmon” might constitute just one salmonid. The sea lion cull continues, despite the fact that they consume only 1-4% of the salmon, while fisheries are typically allowed to take 10-12%.

USDA bird hazer sets off explosives at the Bonneville Dam, May 2013USDA bird hazer sets off explosives at the
Bonneville Dam, May 2013
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The Army Corps reports that non-lethal methods – including “hazing with lights, reducing nesting habitat, and using human presence to flush double-crested cormorants off potential nesting sites” – have been tested. Sea Shepherd has documented bird hazers from the USDA harassing cormorants along the river, frightening the birds with explosives.

Just as the taxpayer-funded culling of sea lions at the Bonneville Dam will not solve the problem of a declining salmon population, nor will the shooting and killing of cormorants – set to cost up to $1.5 million each year of the four-year cull. The scapegoating of these innocent animals redirects the public’s focus from the real problems at the Columbia – overfishing, a polluted river filled with toxins, and the dam itself.

CALL TO ACTION: Though Sea Shepherd does not currently have Dam Guardians on the ground, we remain dedicated to protecting the animals who call the Columbia River home and exposing the true threats to this endangered salmon population. Please join us in speaking out against the planned killing of 16,000 cormorants for the “crime” of eating salmon. Here are ways you can help:

1) Attend one or both of the upcoming public meetings scheduled by the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the proposed cull to show that you stand with the cormorants and the sea lions, as well as the salmon:

July 10 from 2:30pm to 5:30pm PT
Matt Dishman Community Center
77 N.E. Knott St.
Portland, Oregon

July 24 from 3pm to 6pm

Best Western Lincoln Inn
555 Hamburg Ave.
Astoria, Oregon

2) Submit public comments against the cull:



Sondra Ruckwardt
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
Attn: CENWP-PM-E / Double-creasted cormorant draft EIS
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, OR 97208-2946

The deadline for public comments is August 4, 2014.

First sea lions. Now cormorants. Where and when will it end?

Dam Guardians
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Dam Guardians

5 Reasons Not to Eat Fish

Sea Lion Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Sea Lion Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

5. Seals and sea lions are scapegoated and shot by commercial fishermen and their lackeys who blame the marine mammals for dwindling fish populations. It’s the same “all here for us” mentality that ranchers and trophy hunters use to justify killing wolves.


Painting by  Barry K. MacKay

Painting by Barry K. MacKay

4. Cormorants are culled by the thousands, by both commercial and sport fishing interests unwilling to share “their” resources. Last April, sport fishermen in South Carolina shot over 11,000 cormorants for the crime of eating fish; and the U.S. Government is currently planning $1.5 million-a-year program that would arm federal trappers with silenced rifles and night-vision scopes to shoot thousands of Columbia River cormorants during their nesting season .


Featured Image -- 62263. Live fish sequester carbon. The sea absorbs about half of the billions of tons of CO2 humans produce…, but only if there’s plenty of phytoplankton, fish and other organisms living in it.



2. Bykill, including pelagic sea birds, turtles, marine mammals, and non-target fish species, accounts for 50% or more of some fisheries’ take. Many fisheries around the world throw away more fish than they keep.



images1. Fish are sentient beings too, no less deserving of compassion than any other species humans claim as their food. Flying in the face of what is considered popular opinion, fish have good memories, build complicated structures and show behaviour seen in primates – as well as feel pain like any other vertebrates. 


I’d Love to Change the World

I’ve been told that I’m not helping anything by being vegan; that I wasn’t going to be able to stop all the horrible things going on by taking a stand against animal consumption.

10151358_495324630593354_7512005859880238928_nThat’s a depressing thought, especially if you’re aware of the current holocaust happening all around us. Humans are slaughtering 6 million animals per hour. 20,000 more will die in the time it takes you to read these sentences! That’s a holocaust of farmed animals every 60 minutes. And that’s not counting fish, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, clams, krill or other sea life. But I’m not fooling myself, I know it would take a concerted, allied effort to stop these atrocities.

Even if I never saw positive results from promoting veganism in my short lifetime, there are other reasons for not eating animals. For me, veganism is about choosing not to add to the suffering our fellow Earthlings endure every day for the human appetite; it’s a form of dissent against the extreme cruelty millions of animals undergo so humans can have their steak and eat it too.

Veganism is my protest against the insanity of factory farming; against the existence of battery cages, cattle feedlots, industrialized dairies, veal crates, hog farming, commercial fishing, whaling, sealing, fur trapping, bow hunting, predator control, contest hunts, culling, derby killing and every other form of exploitation our species inflicts on the non-humans citizens of the world.

I might not be able to change the world, but at least I don’t have to be complicit in institutionalized animal cruelty. Non-human animals might hold little value to most people, but the laissez-faire acceptance of brutality and suffering will eventually come back on Homo sapiens and help facilitate the demise of the species.

In the immortal words of Woodstock headliners, Ten Years After:

“I’d love to change the world

But I don’t know what to do

So I’ll leave it up to you”


At Least I Leaned From My Mistakes

My uncle (god rest his soul) used to be a skipper on a charter fishing boat. He fished for salmon off the Columbia River bar (among the roughest waters in the world). It was from him that I first heard the attitude that natural predators like cougars “serve no earthly purpose.”

Being the young, environmentally-minded wildlife advocate that I was, I strongly disagreed with his viewpoint on many occasions. But, being respectful of my relatives, especially my elders, I never gave him a hard time for his outdated thinking.

A lot of good that did me. Now that I’m an uncle, my young nephew shows me nothing of the respect I gave my uncle. Although he’s three generations removed from my uncle’s era, some of my nephew’s thinking is as outdated as that of any other commercial fisherman I have known (and there have been all too many). Apparently he’s been following this blog, but like other animal exploiters who try to comment, he neglected to read the “About” page, which would have informed him that anti-animal comments would not be approved.

But here are few extracts from comments he tried to leave today: “… what exactly is the solution? Stop eating cows all together, stop allowing them to breed, and make them go extinct?” or “…get off your high horse. [again, remember that this is his uncle he's talking to] Saying that veal exists because of the dairy industry is a logical fallacy akin to: crime exists because of the existence of police officers. Veal exists because people want to eat veal. Do you honestly think that if we got rid of all dairy consumption tomorrow, no one would be able to buy veal?! On the flip side, if no one on earth was willing to buy veal, do you think that ranchers would still produce it?!”

I’m not sure what point he was trying to get across with that comment, but his clincher was: “If we were all to stop fishing tomorrow then a lot of sea lions would die.”

I might not have been a perfect example for my nephew over the years, but at least I try to learn from my mistakes.

Text and Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson


Crafty Cod Use Tool to Get Food: Nothing Fishy About It

The more we learn about other animals the more fascinating they are

Your Custom and Cultural Quaintness Won’t Get You Out of it This Time

DSC_0131Your hatred of seals and sea lions runs deep. Your father was a commercial fisherman, like his father before him. If they taught you anything about fishing, it was that marine mammals are the enemy. They serve no earthly purpose; the only good one is a dead one.

Never mind that seals and sea lions evolved over tens of millions of years to adapt to aquatic habitats, eventually becoming nature’s perfect fishers; that species of fish and other sea life evolved in harmony with pinnipeds and so were able to withstand their level of predation; or that the reasons salmon are more scarce than they were for your grand-pappy are all because of human activity—including commercial fishing.

That so-called “evolution” stuff is just some big lie made up by “scientists” who don’t know shit from Shinola and probably work for that other arch-enemy: the federal government. (Forget that the government has practically handed you a living since they granted your ancestors their first commercial fishing license.)

Your bible tells you the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that your god loves you better than he does any damn seal or sea lions. Anything you think you have to do to feed your family is forgivable in the eyes of the lord. Studying nature, any further than learning where the schools of fish are likely to be on a given day, is heresy.

Your sense of entitlement is trumped only by your all-consuming hatred of seals and sea lions. So what if they look cute and comical hauled out on beaches or docks in the marina, those beaches and docks belong to you, not them! So do the fish they steal from you and the nets they mess up when they get entangled in them.

So you bring your rifle along whenever you’re out at sea. Shooting them, as your daddy did before you, is the one thing that makes you feel better. It feels good when you see your bullet find its mark and tear into their flesh. It’s not legal anymore, but no one’s watching or does anything about it. You’d have to be pretty obvious to get into any trouble.

Who cares that most of them don’t die outright, but instead suffer slowly with of lead poisoning or infection. Most of them sink to the bottom eventually—out of sight, out of mind.

Sometimes they wash up on your beach or haul out to give birth. It really burns you when people appreciate them and try to protect them with signs warning drivers to watch out for them.

Last week a pregnant seal hauled out and people gushed while she brought yet another seal into the world. If there’s one thing there are too many of, it’s seals and sea lions. God will back you up on that. Do-gooders waited and watched over her, placing signs around her to warn motorists.

It shouldn’t have been an issue, since the upland dunes are off-limits to driving, but your hatred of seals and sea lions blinds you to rules and regulations. The do-gooders were around all day and into the evening, so you wait until the early-morning tide, when no one will witness.

You’ve watched the seal from a distance and know just where to find her as you drive your big, jacked-up four-by-four a mile north of the Ocean Park beach approach. This is your home turf and you know exactly where to go. You find the seal and her pup just where you saw them the day before, in the upland dune grass, where the feds say you shouldn’t drive because some nesting birds take precedence over your fun.

The signs on either side of the seals are visible before the animals are, and you use them to help you zero in on your target. Shooting them would be easier, but the noise might attract attention, so you do the next best thing—you run right over the mother seal, severing her tail.

Checking on your handy work, you see that she’s bleeding badly and will no doubt die

A mother harbor seal, who had recently given birth, was found dead on the beach north of the Ocean Park beach approach last week, thought to have been a victim of an intentional vehicular killing.  Photo by SUZY WHITTEY / Chinook Observer

A mother harbor seal, who had recently given birth, was found dead on the beach north of the Ocean Park beach approach last week, thought to have been a victim of an intentional vehicular killing.
Photo by SUZY WHITTEY / Chinook Observer

from her wounds. The pup, on the other hand, is unharmed, but bleating noisily. Someone will probably nurse it back to health if they find it there, so you stuff the newborn pup in a sack, throw it in the back of the truck and bring it to your property in the woods.

What you do with the pup there, people can only speculate. It might come out later in your trial. You were sloppy this time; you left tire tracks where people don’t normally drive. It’s not like no one knows you or ever sees you driving the beach there.

You shocked a lot of people and a lot of folks are angry. People may like to celebrate fishermen, but your feeble rationalizations and your custom and cultural quaintness won’t get you out of it this time.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Killed for Eating Fish

Sea Lion Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Sea Lion Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Dear Jim,

12 California sea lions have already been killed this year along the Columbia River. 80 more could meet the same fate throughout 2014, simply for doing what comes naturally to them.

Sea lions eat around one percent of the total salmon run each year, while commercial, recreational, and tribal fishermen are entitled to harvest up to 17 percent of these fish. Yet sea lions are being painfully branded and killed in the name of conservation.

Please send a note to Governor Inslee to let him know that this lethal program is unacceptable and should be called off immediately.

Thank you for taking action.
Wayne Pacelle
Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO

When Humans are Gone, Who’ll be Around to Brand the Sea Lions?

The hot iron is something right out of the Inquisition era. But while the Spanishlittleboyc09 Inquisition was a necessary evil to prevent heresy and extract confessions from witches, branding sea lions serves no real purpose. Oh sure, the modern day inquisitors will argue that the tortuous process helps them decide which individual sea lions are most responsible for the capital crime of eating salmon at the Bonneville dam upriver.

What you don’t hear them say is that sea lions have been eating fish for some 50 million years, ever since they left the land and evolved back into sea creatures. For the ensuing millennia, everyone got along just fine—until humans came by to fuck things up.

First, the humans strung nets and placed weirs out into the salmon’s migration path. Next they built canneries along the Columbia River; and while some people were busy killing off the salmon in droves, sealers murdered all the seals and sea lions and otters they could find, to fuel the booming, psychotic fur trade (for which the town of Astoria was first made famous). California sea lions were primarily rendered into oil by the equally-debased whaling industry.

The many dams built along the river were the coup de grace for any salmon still surviving the ever-advancing human onslaught. Not only do spawning salmon have to make it up past the massive new impediments, but warmer water behind the manmade reservoirs is hard on the young fish fry. And then there was the threat of the dam turbines…

Now, when a few sea lions are seen eating fish—as they’ve always done—they’re practically burned at the stake.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Take the Pledge: Boycott Columbia River Salmon



Meanwhile, this bumper sticker is a common sight on rigs owned by commercial salmon fishermen in the area:


And shot sea lions are a common sight on beaches off the Oregon/Washington coast:



From Sea Lion Defense Brigade:

In loving memory of the 3 sea lions KILLED this week at Bonneville Dam by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

These scapegoated sea lions had nothing to do with the decline of salmon and were taken from their friends and family way too soon.

Humans have many food options, sea lions do not.

Rest in Peace C020, C029 and C930.
We serve in your memory.SLDB

Sea lion sanctuary a proven possibility

The Sea Lion Defense Brigade meets with Sea Shepherd and other groups next week to go into specifics on a sea lion haul-out.

A sanctuary for the sea lions, tourism and revenue for the City of Astoria, win, win!

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

By Edward Stratton
The Daily Astorian | Friday, April 25, 2014

A local’s nuisance could be a tourist’s reason for visiting.

Activists for the California sea lions that populate the Port of Astoria’s East End Mooring Basin say they see an alternative used in other communities to accommodate sea lions and boost tourism: give them their own docks.

“If you had the vision, you could do it, and I’m here to inspire you,” said Ninette Jones of the Sea Lion Defense Brigade April 15.

Jones has been silenced at the last two Port Commission meetings in a row by Chairman James Campbell. He’s declared her out of order and gaveled into silence. But Jones comes back and touts the tourism benefits of sea lions.

The Defense Brigade, said Jones, meets with Sea Shepherd and other groups next week to go into specifics on a sea lion haul-out. Sea Shepherd has offered to pay for a haul-out, which she estimates will cost $20,000 to $40,000.

“In order to be able to deter them successfully from piers, there must be suitable haul-outs nearby as options,” said Scott West, a former federal agent in charge of criminal investigations for Sea Shepherd. “Otherwise, the deterrents will fail.”

Interim Executive Director Mike Weston said that while protecting the Port’s infrastructure is its top priority, he sees a revenue-generating opportunity with the sea lions.

“I feel that the Port as a whole is working for a solution, and preferably a win-win solution,” said Weston, adding that he’d prefer any sea lion facility be closer to the jetty rocks around the basin and away from the docks.

Jones said the brigade is also in the process of forming a nonprofit and establishing an office along the Columbia River. And that might be just what the doctor ordered.

Newport’s solution

Sea lions have long been an attraction at the Port of Newport. Bob Ward and other community members formed the Newport Sea Lion Docks Foundation about two years ago to help keep them around.

“The Port probably has 30 other priorities ahead of sea lions,” said Ward, adding that it’s installed about 100 feet of replacement docks in the interim. “We haven’t asked the Port for a penny. It was hard work at first, but the first money is always the hardest to work.”

The nonprofit collects money from foundations, local businesses, at the docks and online. It’s raised $100,000 of $125,000 to buy 90 feet of sea lion dock and a viewing platform.

Ward said forming a nonprofit was a prerequisite to getting that far. It opened access to such funding sources as a $20,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. The city of Newport pledged $50,000 if the group could raise $75,000.

Although one of the port commissioners in Newport is a commercial fishermen, said Ward, they understand the attraction of sea lions. About 250,000 people a year, he added, come to see the animals.

“If we hadn’t undertaken the responsibility of raising the money, it never would have happened,” said Ward.

“We see ourselves as a catalyst, a funding foundation to keep it going. In another 15 to 20 years, when they get beaten down, then we’ll try to replace them.”