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Government Killers Destroy Cormorant Colony

June 1, 2016


DEAR FRIENDS,


SHARK spent an intense three weeks on the Columbia River documenting the horrific slaughter of cormorants by the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

When we first arrived on the river, the killers from the notorious Wildlife Services division of USDA, afraid we would video-document their cruelty for the public to see, did not kill any birds while we were on the water.
 Angry by our mere presence on the river, representatives from Army Corps and USDA went to the Coast Guard and demanded they give their boat a so-called “Safety Zone” which would exclude any boat from being within an astonishing 1,000 yards from the killers boat. The Coast Guard agreed to give them a 500 yard exclusionary zone, which was still a ridiculously large area that had nothing to do with safety.

It was clear that this was done specifically to suppress our First Amendment rights, so we launched a lawsuit in federal court against the exclusionary zone. In the meantime, no longer able to be close to the Wildlife Services boat, we deployed expensive, high-tech equipment that allowed us to film the killing from afar. The video we captured of cormorants being slaughtered was ground-breaking, as never before had the cruelty committed by Wildlife Services been documented in such a way.

 

A cormorant falling to her death after being shot by the killers in the Wildlife Services boat
 
 
As you will read in the following letter, in mid-May disaster struck the cormorant colony; all the birds fled the island, abandoning their nests and eggs. There is no question that the responsibility for this tragedy lies at the feet of both Army Corps and USDA. That is why we and Last Chance for Animals are calling for an independent investigation, as Army Corps and USDA cannot be trusted.

Please email the following officials and politely ask them for an independent investigation into this completely avoidable tragedy. Tell them to never allow Army Corps to slaughter cormorants again.

 
To learn more about why cormorants are being wrongfully blamed for eating salmon, while the Army Corps hydro-power system kills tens of millions of these protected fish annually, as well as the corruption and collapse of the colony, please watch the following videos:
 
 

A shocking 65% of the salmon that pass through Army Corps' system of dams are killed.  Even more are so damaged by the dams that they are not likely to survive to become adults. This is how disgraceful the situation is; Army Corps slaughters millions of protected salmon, then blames cormorants and  slaughter thousands of them 
 
 
To learn more about how the Coast Guard has enabled the killing while violating free speech rights, please watch these videos:
   
 
Already in 2016, SHARK has been on the frontline in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, and soon Maryland. All of that important work, including spending three weeks on the Columbia River and fighting for our rights in court, has been extraordinarily expensive. We need your help now!

For the last couple of weeks, PayPal has frozen our account, stopping us from receiving donations. We have repeatedly submitted the requested information and yet they have not released our account. This is very suspicious and we sincerely apologize for anyone who has tried to donate online. Until this can be resolved, we ask that you please mail in a donation. Thank you for your support and understanding!
 

SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness
PO Box 28
Geneva IL 60134



A cormorant, just like the ones who were killed by Wildlife Services. Picture from the US Fish and Wildlife Service
 


 

 

 

 

Sally Jewel
United States Secretary of the Interior

Daniel M. Ashe
Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mary Kendall
Deputy Inspector General
U.S. Department of the Interior

Our coalition of organizations is writing to demand that a full and independent investigation be undertaken into the disastrous collapse of the cormorant colony on East Sand Island, and potential violations of the Migratory Bird Act committed by the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) and their partners in the Wildlife Services division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Army Corps asked for and was given a depredation permit (available upon request) from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that allowed it to both kill cormorants and destroy their nests.  The permit states that, “…up to 750 nests may be destroyed…” In the USFWS document for renewal of the depredation permit, "Final_2016_DCCO_MB62133B-0,” it states, “Nest loss through egg oiling (addling)” is 5,247."  Between the highly invasive process of disrupting nests through egg addling, and the out-right destruction of nests, it was Army Corps’ intent to have a serious impact on cormorant nests on the island.

Army Corps deployed Wildlife Services to do the killing. On the Army Corps’ website, it stated that there were nest oiling activities on May 11, and that there was a “significant disturbance” sometime between May 13 and 16th.  They also stated that Wildlife Services were killing cormorants on the river on May 16th, meaning that not only did the birds have their nests destroyed around the time of the “significant disturbance” but that Wildlife Services was slaughtering the animals as well.

Such destructive behavior by Wildlife Services, on behalf of Army Corps, in the time frame of the abandonment is the only logical reason for why the cataclysm occurred.

On May 4th, US District Judge Michael Simon issued a ruling that rejected the federal governments plan for protecting salmon, which included the cormorant slaughter.  As recorded on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s website, he went as far as stating that, “...reconsidering their options for protecting salmon could lead the agencies to the conclusion that they don’t need to kill cormorants.” In that same article, Army Corps spokeswoman Amy Echols stated, “We’re not going to stop our management actions at this particular moment.”

A little more than a week after Judge Simon ruled, there was a mass-abandonment of nests on East Sand Island. The most logical conclusion is that Army Corps feared the ramifications of the judge’s decision and pressed hard to fulfill their depredation permit before any further legal actions could be taken, and that resulted in the disaster on East Sand Island.

The role of USFWS facilitating the disaster cannot be ignored either. On USFWS’ own website, it states that, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responsibilities include the conservation and management of double-crested cormorants, which are included on the list of protected migratory birds.” 

Army Corps was only able to kill cormorants and destroy their nests because USFWS gave them the permit to do so. That USFWS appears to have let the killing program go without any oversight is a serious breach of their responsibilities. USFWS must never again issue a depredation permit for East Sand Island and all such permits issued across our nation should immediately be halted and reviewed to prevent any similar disasters.

We suspect that both Army Corps and USDA will not be forthcoming to the public about their actions. This is why we are calling for all members of Wildlife Services who participated in operations on the Columbia River be compelled to testify under oath about their actions, and that all documents relating to this issue be collected before they can be destroyed.

Due to the numerous conflicts of interests within the agencies responsible for the cormorant killing program, we are calling for an agreed upon representative from the animal protection community to be part of the investigation.

As is stated on USFWS website, "The largest breeding colony of double-crested cormorants in western North America, and likely all of North America, resides on East Sand Island.”

That statement, we are sad to report, is no longer true. The responsibility for that tragedy falls upon Army Crops, Wildlife Services, and USFWS. 



Sincerely,

Showing Animals Respect and Kindness
Last Chance for Animals