Corps Has “Removed” 125 Cormorants (So Far)

June 12, 2015  • 


During the day, crews from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services typically survey the island and the cormorants’ habitat, corps spokesman Matthew Eppard said Friday.

The birds are shot at night using rifles equipped with silencers and lead-free ammunition, as required by the environmental impact statement. Teams work in two and threes and are armed with .22 caliber rifles, using night vision scopes. Shooting at night is meant to reduce disturbances to other species and also helps hunters identify cormorants that have chicks (they’re trying to avoid killing roosting pairs to avoid leaving hatchlings without parents).

Shot cormorants are removed from the island and surrounding waters as quickly as possible using all-terrain vehicles and small, inflatable boats. They’re taken to a nearby disposal area where they are either buried or incinerated.

Current plans are to continue removing birds from the island for several more months.

“I know it will go into the fall,” Eppard said.

The corps has said it needs to substantially reduce the number of cormorants in the Columbia River estuary to protect salmon and steelhead runs protected by the Endangered Species Act. The corps’ three-year plan calls for killing about 11,000 adult birds, more than a third of the 30,000 birds on the island, and spraying vegetable oil on more than 15,000 eggs to keep them from hatching.

A federal judge earlier this month rejected an attempt by a coalition of animal rights groups to block the project. District Court Judge Michael Simon said the groups failed to show the plan would cause irreparable harm to the species, which biologists say eat millions of juvenile salmon annually.

Each Thursday by 9 a.m. the corps will update results from culling and egg oiling that occurred during the previous week on the cormorant EIS web page at

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