Prevent Slaughter of Birds Wrongly Blamed for Fish Decline


Target: Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick, Commanding General for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Goal: Cancel plans to slaughter 16,000 double-crested cormorants to restore salmon and trout populations negatively impacted by human activity

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced a despicable plan to execute nearly 16,000 double-crested cormorants near the Columbia River in order to “protect” declining salmon and trout populations. Hunting cormorants account for a only a small percentage of the fish killed every year. Despite evidence confirming humans’ responsibility for the drop in fish numbers, these birds continue to be persecuted by the government.

Animal rights organization Care2 reports the government will spend “$1.5 million a year over the next four years to take out a total of 15,955 cormorants, along with using land and boat-based hazing to keep them from nesting on the island.” This act of pure genocide is impulsive, costly and ultimately misguided. The Audubon Society of Portland notes the Corps has spent millions of dollars in past attempts to alter bird behavior on the island, to no avail. In a bullheaded, ruthless fashion the Corps has decided to revisit these tactics; only this time they hope to eliminate bird colonies entirely.

The American Bird Conservancy has officially designated the cormorant-inhabited island an “Important Bird Area,” meaning its preservation and protection are of the utmost importance. Because of the thousands of birds that live there (beyond just the cormorants), this designation is respected internationally among conservationists and officials alike. So how can the mass execution of these innocent birds be justified?

Animal rights groups and environmentalists all point to the same factors devastating fish populations: dams, pollution and habitat modification. Dams modify the natural water flow, scattering fish and hampering migration. Construction of dams ruins local habitat and can directly lead to the deaths of salmon. In response the water becomes tainted and the temperature increases, making it ill-suited to sustain salmon and trout.

Demand that the Army Corps of Engineers call off its unwarranted massacre of cormorants. Tell the Corps to target the real perpetrators: dam construction and habitat degradation. Call for these innocent birds to be spared, rather than blamed for problems that humans have caused.


Dear Lieutenant General Bostick,

Your plan to slaughter whole colonies of double-crested cormorants near the Columbia River is ill-conceived and heartless. You claim to be “protecting” salmon and trout populations when in reality you are merely scapegoating the cormorants and marking them for unjust execution.

According to conservation group Care2, cormorants “only consume 3.6 percent of the local salmon population.” You completely overlook more significant contributing factors, focused on a quick-fix that allows humans to continue their destructive behavior. Dam construction alters waters’ natural flow, wreaking havoc on local fish. As a result fish are kept from migrating and ultimately die. Mining, construction and logging all pollute the water and raise its temperature. These conditions make it virtually impossible for salmon and trout to survive.

Disregarding the thousands you intend to slaughter, the cormorant population as a whole is steadily diminishing in the West. These birds are still recovering from a decrease in numbers due to previous exposure to DDT. Where is the logic in killing off one threatened species to save another?

I urge you and your colleagues at the Army Corps of Engineers to cancel this unwarranted massacre. Cormorants should not be held responsible for the damage caused by dam construction and habitat modification. Please, address the activities truly responsible and spare these birds from unnecessary eradication.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrew Butko via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Helene Beck Helene Beck says:

    You can actually send a comment directly to the ‘Army corps of Engineers’ on their website, here’s the link:
    Tell them what you think of them slaughtering innocent birds!

    • Helene Beck Helene Beck says:

      When I sent the Army Corps of Engineers a piece of my mind regarding the slaughter of cormorants, they replied:
      ” … Double-crested cormorant predation on Endangered Species Act-listed juvenile salmonids is a very complex issue. We need to balance the needs of federally protected fish and wildlife species with improving ESA-listed fish survival. The draft EIS is the first step in determining what actions we should take to protect ESA-listed juvenile salmonids, namely salmon and steelhead, while also managing double-crested cormorants, which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

      No actions are planned at this time; we are working with our partner agencies to determine the best action to comply with NOAA Fisheries’ requirement that the Corps of Engineers reduce the breeding pairs of double-crested cormorants to about 5,600 by 2018, down from 14,000 today. We are seeking alternatives from the public and agencies that will allow us to comply with this NOAA Fisheries Biological Opinion.”

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