Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2016

Contact:  Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, (503) 380-9728,
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,

Opponents of Cormorant Slaughter to Rally at Portland Federal Building at Noon on May 17

PORTLAND, Ore.— A rally will be held at noon on May 17 at the federal building courtyard at 911 NE 11th Avenue to protest the ongoing slaughter of double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River Estuary by federal agents. 

Double-crested cormorant
Double-crested cormorant photo courtesy Flickr/Mark Dumont. This photo is available for media use.

Over the past year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services have shot more than 4,500 cormorants and destroyed more than 6,000 cormorant nests. This represents more than 7 percent of the entire double-crested cormorant population west of the Rocky Mountains. The goal of the agencies is to ultimately kill more than 10,000 cormorants and destroy more than 26,000 nests. Federal agents in boats are currently using shotguns to shoot cormorants out of the sky. In the coming weeks they will shift to shooting the birds on their nests as they care for their eggs and young.

The killing represents a senseless wanton slaughter of wild birds. The agencies claim that the killing is necessary to protect Columbia River salmon populations, but in fact the agencies are simply scapegoating wild birds for salmon declines that have been caused by the federal hydropower system.

Last year documents obtained by the Audubon Society of Portland showed that the Fish and Wildlife Service ignored a report by its own biologists showing that killing cormorants would provide no benefit at all for salmon recovery. In April 2016 a federal court in Washington, D.C., struck down analysis used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to justify killing of tens of thousands of double-crested cormorants in the eastern United States, finding that the agency failed to consider any alternatives other than its preferred lethal strategy. Just last week a federal court in Portland ruled for the fifth time in 20 years that the federal agencies failed to adequately consider modifications to the Columbia River hydropower system in their plan to recover salmon and ordered them to redo their plan. The court wrote that the agencies had ignored the admonishments of the court for years and focused on strategies that “cry out for a major overhaul” and which had cost taxpayers “billions of dollars, yet are failing.” 

“The only credible response to the information that has emerged over the past year is for the federal agencies to immediately stop the killing and review what has gone terribly wrong with their decision-making processes,” said Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger. “That they have instead accelerated the killing is absolutely unconscionable. This is a senseless and cruel waste of life that defies science, law and common decency.”

“We’re outraged that the Corps continues to kill cormorants without any justification or benefit,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science shows that cormorant killing does nothing to protect salmon. It is the Corps’ refusal to modify dam operations that’s the real threat to salmon, and the needless deaths of cormorants are another causality of the agency’s mismanagement of the Columbia River ecosystem.”

Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund and Wildlife Center of the North Coast have sued the Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps and Wildlife Services to stop the slaughter of cormorants. They are represented by Earthrise Law Center. A ruling in the case is expected later this year.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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