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Ecology and salmon related articles

Corps Won't Kill Gulls
to Help Salmon-eating Terns

by Associated Press
Lewiston Tribune, May 17, 2013

(Dan Roby) Gulls are a major problem in establishing new nesting sites for Caspian terns The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will not continue killing gulls that have been eating baby Caspian terns at the West Coast's largest nesting colony, located at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The corps issued an environmental assessment to decide whether the continued failure of the tern colony on East Sand Island to produce young because of predation by the gulls would drive the terns to return to another island upstream, where they consumed millions of baby salmon.

The corps concluded that new research indicates the terns are not likely to move the colony, so no action is needed. In recent years, eagles flying overhead have scared the terns into flying off their nests, allowing gulls to move in and eat the eggs and young left behind.

Federal agencies became concerned that the terns would return to Rice Island if they continued to fail to produce new young.

The assessment looked at shooting up to 150 gulls to keep them from eating baby terns. The corps started shooting gulls last year under a permit to kill up to 50 granted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bob Salinger of Portland Audubon said the situation points out how complicated it is getting to protect salmon from natural predators, when the real problem is the dams on the Columbia.

"What we are seeing is a wider and wider net being cast to manipulate a variety of species - cormorants, gulls, Caspian terns, sea lions - natural predators that have coexisted for millennia with salmon," Salinger said. "In the meantime, we don't feel the core reasons for salmon declining have been adequately addressed by the corps - the dams."

The terns had been nesting farther upriver on Rice Island, made of leftover sand from dredging operations, where they consumed millions of baby salmon migrating to the ocean.

Related Pages:
Cormorant's will be killed --> State Expands Study of Salmon-eating Seabirds by Associated Press, Lewiston Tribune, 4/23/13

Associated Press
Corps Won't Kill Gulls to Help Salmon-eating Terns
Lewiston Tribune, May 17, 2013

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