[Tweeters] letter about Columbia River cormorants

Dennis Paulson dennispaulson at comcast.net
Fri Jul 11 21:09:18 PDT 2014

This letter speaks for itself:
Sondra Ruckward

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, District, Portland

Attn: CENWP-PM-E-14-08 / Double-crested Comorant draft EIS

P.O. Box 2946

Portland, OR 97208-2946

July 10, 2014

Dear U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

As a native Oregonian with a great interest in the Columbia River estuary I am writing to strongly oppose the lethal control plan for the large breeding colony of Double-crested Cormorants. Shooting these seabirds as a method to decrease the size of the colony is an appalling management strategy. We do not fully understand their effect on the marine ecosystem as there are limited studies on them and simply shooting them shows total disregard for the beneficial impact they may have. The cormorants may be eating fish that prey on the juvenile salmon; we do not fully know their effects in the ecosystem.

Shooting these birds will encourage others who view cormorants and other fish-eating species to illegally kill them. Two examples that I have experienced: I have seen numerous dead sea lions with bullet holes in their skulls along the beach on the Long Beach Peninsula. The other example is from Tillamook at a pullout near Bay Ocean Spit where I stopped to view a group of birds feeding on fish. From the house above a resident started shooting at these birds over my head.

Birds that compete with humans for fish have long been unappreciated by us. Despite growing up along the Columbia River, I did not know and could not see the three species of cormorants that occur at the mouth of the Columbia River. My family who live there now cannot see the difference between them. Even as a birder who visited the Caspian Tern colony on East Sand Island, I asked the biologist what the redeeming qualities of the Double-crested Cormorant are. It was not until I read Richard King’s book The Devil’s Cormorant that I started to more fully appreciate these birds. This natural history of cormorants is enlightening and I urge you to read it. I am giving a copy to the Corps. This book looks deeply into the long history of interactions between humans and cormorants and why humans hold this species in such low regard. After reading it, this was the first spring that I really looked at them and saw the white and black color variations in their crests. Dr. John Marzluff in Seattle is showing us that birds have very large brains and use them to coevolve with humans. He helped me appreciate American Crows, another bird humans have a long history of antipathy towards.

I do recognize that the colony is large and I am not opposed to management of the size of this colony. The effect of shooting the cormorants may not have the effect the Corps is planning on. I strongly urge you to come up with a better designed and more scientific plan to manage these marvelous seabirds.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has created the human conflict with the Double-crested Cormorant by not having a larger view of the ecosystem. The corps built the dams that diminished salmon runs and created the nesting habitat for fish eating birds. I urge the corps to do a better job of managing the wildlife they impact and of seeing the influence they have on the public’s view of wildlife conflicts that the corps has created.


Shawn Schmelzer

1130 NW 26th Avenue, Apt. 2

Portland, OR 97210

Dennis Paulson
1724 NE 98 St.
Seattle, WA 98115
dennispaulson at comcast.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list