Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Oregon uses ‘hazing’ to move cormorants away from migrating salmon and steelhead

Modern fishery managers face a lot of challenges, including what
to do when cormorants set up over specific areas and feed
effectively on popular fish species.

In Oregon, they are using ‘hazing’ to move cormorants away from
vulnerable migrating salmon and steelhead. We thought you might be
interested in reading about it.

Newport, Oregon – Hazing of
double-crested cormorants that eat juvenile salmon and steelhead on
their migration from freshwater rivers to the sea will begin on
April 1 in Tillamook and Nehalem bays.

Tillamook Bay operations will be conducted from April 1 through
May 31 by the North Coast Salmon and Steelhead Enhancement Fund to
protect the hatchery and wild coho and winter steelhead that are
migrating through the estuaries. Data collection work on how
harassment affects the distribution and behavior of cormorants will
be conducted through Tillamook County.

Nehalem Bay operations will be conducted by the Port of Nehalem
from April 1 through April 30. In both locations, a boat or jet ski
will be used to push cormorants to the lower bays where the birds
can feed on a greater diversity of prey items.

Hazing of cormorants consists of disturbing the birds, scaring
them without harming them, with swift-moving watercraft and is
conducted under the direction of Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife staff.

Fish Species Status

Coastal coho salmon that use streams and rivers from the
Necanicum River in the north to the Sixes River in the south are
federally listed as a threatened species. Nehalem River and
Tillamook estuary basin coho are state sensitive species. Winter
steelhead of the Nehalem River and Tillamook estuary basin are
state sensitive species.

Research

A data collection project to identify potential avian predation
hotspots will take place on the Coquille estuary from March 19
through April 30 under a contract with the Port of Bandon. Hotspots
of avian predation occur where fish are grouped, such as during the
outmigration of hatchery fish, attracting aggregations of
predators.

In addition to hazing efforts, ODFW and partners are exploring
options for research and monitoring of fish-eating birds in
relation to their impact on vulnerable fish runs, looking for
long-term solutions. However, management of avian predators on fish
populations is complex and requires balancing the needs of
competing species within the guidelines of federal laws that
include the Endangered Species and the Migratory Bird Treaty
acts.

The double-crested cormorant is a waterbird found near inland
waterways as well as on the coast. They fish by swimming and diving
and nest in trees, cliffs and on the ground on predator-free
islands. Cormorants are protected by international treaty and
federal law.

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