Oregon State Condones Widespread Bird Harassment

Far from being 'for the birds,' this campaign is entirely for the fish.

Posted: Mar 26, 2018 6:10 PM

TILLAMOOK, Ore. — The term "hazing" generally appears in the context of bizarre fraternity or sorority initiation rituals. It's only slightly less bizarre to encounter the word in the context used by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW); in their case it means the systematic harassment of birds.

The double-crested cormorant is an expert fisher-bird—looking not unlike some dark, sleek, prehistoric pteranodon—often found perched on wood pilings, rocky jetties, or lining the shore of some waterway, closely watching the water for signs of their slippery prey.

Because cormorants are such relentless seekers of fresh fish, the ODFW are struggling to keep the state's young salmon population safe.

Cormorants are especially populous in Oregon's estuaries from April through October, according to the ODFW. However, this is a vital time for juvenile salmon as they migrate to the ocean.

When hazing, ODFW workers and non-profit volunteers work to drive cormorants from areas where juvenile salmon are concentrated to areas where other, more common types of fish gather. The ODFW employ small boats and benign pyrotechnics to harass the fisher-birds.

Some species of spring-migrating salmon—such as the coho salmon—are federally considered threatened in Oregon under the Endangered Species Act.

The ODFW will have support in these hazing rituals from Clatsop County Fisheries Project, Port of Nehalem, Port of Bandon, North Coast Salmon and Steelhead Enhancement Fund, and Alsea Sportsmen's Association. ODFW provides portions of the funding, program oversight, and conducts some of the hazing operations itself—however, they rely heavily on these other organizations.

Hazing is expected to continue through May 31 on the Nehalem, Nestucca, and Coquille river estuaries, as well as the Tillamook and Alsea bays. The program will continue through at least July 31 on the lower Columbia River, where hazing will occur at a variety of locations, including Young’s Bay, Blind Slough, and Tongue Point.

ODFW has coordinated the cormorant hazing project for the last 9 years, although cormorant hazing in some form has occurred at some Oregon estuaries intermittently since 1988.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 356061

Reported Deaths: 4275
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55695704
Washington38673322
Marion36719454
Clackamas29660309
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Jackson22982310
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Umatilla14451150
Linn12780130
Douglas12065243
Josephine9349196
Yamhill8674113
Klamath7965118
Polk733681
Malheur561776
Benton546531
Coos501294
Columbia379744
Jefferson372352
Union318449
Lincoln318039
Crook287546
Wasco287441
Clatsop243329
Baker202529
Tillamook196432
Hood River192137
Morrow184423
Curry180025
Harney113726
Grant100013
Lake92412
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1503
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

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Los Angeles148181426506
Riverside3712935030
San Diego3660564183
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Orange3241845550
Sacramento1593332308
Kern1459621644
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Tulare80203967
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Merced42299581
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Butte23738270
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