Environment
9:35 am
Thu September 1, 2011

Efforts to control seabirds doing more damage to salmon

EAST SAND ISLAND, Wash. — An attempt by government wildlife experts to control seabirds at the mouth of the Columbia River has led to some unintended consequences, all of which have been detrimental to salmon.

The Seattle Times reports it started in the 1980s when dredge spoils created an island 14 miles upriver that turned into a haven for Caspian terns. By the mid-1990s the terns were eating millions of young salmon. So a new island, called East Sand Island, was created closer to the mouth of the Columbia.

Experts hoped the terns would eat more herring and sardines, instead of salmon. But East Sand Island is now a haven for cormorants who are eating more salmon than the terns ever did.

And, this year, eagles and other predators scared terns off their nests and seagulls ate all their eggs.