Language authored by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, to direct federal agencies to protect Northwest salmon from predatory birds on the Columbia River passed the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 255 to 165.
“It only makes sense to focus scarce federal resources on the most significant threat to endangered salmon, and last fall’s scientific report makes it clear that predatory birds pose a real danger to fish recovery efforts on the Columbia River,” said Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“Northwest residents face limits on economic and recreational activities and pay nearly one billion dollars annually through utility bills and taxpayer dollars on efforts to benefit only a small percentage of endangered salmon -- all while predatory birds are eating as much as 15 percent every year. I am pleased that the House acted to address this threat as a priority.”
Hastings’ language, included in the report accompanying H.R. 5325, authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite any appropriate actions, including lethal removal, to address “the significant threat of these predatory birds.”
Hasting said a report released last fall by Oregon State University and the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that caspian terns nesting at Goose Island in Potholes Reservoir, as well as other predatory birds in the region including cormorants and gulls, consume as much as 15 percent of migrating endangered upper Columbia River steelhead smolts.
Hastings said the Corps has advised him that it is preparing two separate reports relating to Northwest fish-eating birds with recommendations to address this expanding problem, but has yet to take any specific action to eliminate this threat.
For more information, see:
-- CBB, April 22, 2011, “Inland Waterbird Colonies Show Unexpectedly High Predation Rate On Specific, Listed Salmonid” http://www.cbbulletin.com/407842.aspx
-- CBB, Dec. 2, 2011, “Annual Avian Predation Report: Estuary Terns, Cormorants Consume 15-20 Percent Wild, Hatchery Smolts” http://www.cbbulletin.com/414471.aspx