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Salmon-eating Caspian terns to be evicted from Columbia River

Caspian terns with freshly caught salmon smolts gather near their nesting colony on Rice Island, near Astoria, Ore. (Associated Press)
Caspian terns with freshly caught salmon smolts gather near their nesting colony on Rice Island, near Astoria, Ore. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

RICHLAND – Federal officials plan to evict Caspian terns from two man-made islands in the Columbia River Basin to protect endangered salmon and steelhead.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation believe that if they can get the salmon-eating birds to stop nesting on the islands, they will find new nesting areas outside the Columbia River Basin.

The two islands in the plan are Goose Island in Potholes Reservoir near Moses Lake and Crescent Island, created from dredged material, in the Columbia River about 9 miles south of the confluence with the Snake River near Wallulla, the Tri-City Herald reported Saturday.

According to data collected from fish tags that litter the island after birds digest the fish, about 370 pairs of terns nesting on Goose Island feasted on 14.6 percent of inland Columbia Basin steelhead from 2007 to 2009.

In 2004, about 530 pairs of nesting terns on Crescent Island are estimated to have eaten 22 percent of the Snake River steelhead. The tern population there has since dropped to about 420 pairs.

The birds also eat juvenile chinook and sockeye salmon.

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