This summer, government officials have killed about 150 cormorants nesting on an island in the Columbia River. They're using rifles with silencers under the cover of night. It's part of a plan that aims to protect salmon from these avian predators. Scientists say the birds are eating up to 18 percent of juvenile salmon. But opponents argue killing the birds won't actually help the fish. Cassandra Profita went onto the river to find out more.

It's after 10 pm, and I'm on a boat in the Columbia River in the rain. We're circling around East Sand Island, where thousands of sea birds are nesting in total darkness. I'm pretty sure the captain, Rob Gudgell, thinks I'm nuts.

"Why did you want to come out at night?" asks Gudgell.

I tell him we got a tip that government agents would be out on the island shooting cormorants tonight. They're working for the Corps of Engineers on a plan that involves killing around 11,000 cormorants over the next four years. It's a big enough deal that we decided to hire a boat and see if we could document the operation. The captain is not convinced.

Read the full story at NWPR >>

Read more about Northwest salmon >>

Have you listened to this article via the audio player?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation