WAYNE WEBER contopus at
Sun Jun 3 10:08:30 PDT 2001


Leslie Ann Rose may be correct that there were some permits that
should have been complied with, but were not, for the conduct of the
Caspian Tern research project at Commencement Bay in Tacoma.

However, Caspian Terns do not need permits to lay eggs or to breed. On
the other hand, anyone who destroys Caspian Tern eggs, or disrupts a
colony-- whether or not it's on an "artificial" site-- does need a
permit. If I am not mistaken, Caspian Terns are federally protected in
the U.S., and a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is needed
to take eggs or to disrupt a colony. I presume that WDFW obtained the
required permit before eliminating the colony at Commencement Bay. If
not, they broke the law.

I am both an ornithologist and a fisheries biologist, and I can
sympathize with both sides in this dispute about terns. However, I am
inclined to agree with Beth Thompson that the terns are being treated
as a scapegoat in this situation. Caspian Terns were not responsible
in any way for the threatened/endangered status of several stocks and
species of salmon. This status has resulted from damming of spawning
streams (including the Columbia River!), loss of spawning habitat, and
overfishing. If the salmon and steelhead stocks were healthy,
predation by Caspian Terns would not pose a risk to them. It should be
possible to develop recovery plans for these fish stocks that do not
require destruction of tern colonies.

For further information, readers may wish to visit the following
website:  . This website includes weekly
reports on the status of both the Columbia estuary colonies and
Commencement Bay colony of Caspian Terns. The latest report is for the
week of May 21-27, before the latter colony was destroyed.

Wayne C. Weber
Kamloops and Delta, B.C.
contopus at

----- Original Message -----
From: Leslie Ann Rose <sylph at>
To: <tweeters at>
Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2001 7:21 AM
Subject: Re: News Release: Caspian tern research project ends early

> Actually, there is a lot more to the story than the press release
> The truth is, neither the barge or the observation tower underwent
> required permitting processes.  We would require these processes to
> closely followed for any type of over-water or shoreline activity.
> devil is in the details and one cannot pick and chose when and when
not to
> adhere to a regulatory process that we rely upon to manage and
protect our
> shoreline and aquatic resources.
> The area where the barge was moored is a Natural Resources Damage
> Trustee (NRDA) site that was acquired through monies received as
part of the
> damage assessment for Commencement Bay Superfund settlements and
> the only holding and growing habitat for juvenile salmon who have
left the
> estuary but have not moved out into Puget Sound.   It is also within
an area
> of Commencement Bay with a Conservancy status as designated by the
City of
> Tacoma's Shoreline Management Plan.  The land where the observations
> structure was built is private property and no permission was sought
> the owner -- in this case the Puyallup Tribe.
> The Asarco site where the Terns have nested in previous years is, in
> stockpiles of soils contaminated with arsenic, lead and other
> stuff which have been removed from their source and will be disposed
of into
> an onsite containment facility (CDF).  Asarco is under a very strict
> timeline which is carefully monitored by EPA and they either finish
> 12/31/05 or face extreme penalties.  Frankly, summer is the very
> construction period for the Asarco site cleanup and they already are
> to observe an fish out-migration window for in-water work that goes
> March through June.  Allowing the terns to continue to use the
Asarco site
> means that we also risk losing July and August for critical cleanup
> Personally, I deplore the loss of the eggs.  It is indeed a sad
> However, the devil is in the details and there were a lot of details
> were disregarded in this particular instance.  However, after
> directly with a number of those involved in the incident, I have to
> that there was no other way.  The next time, and I certainly hope
there is a
> next time, hopefully the project proponents will learn from this
> and scrupulously observe all the regulatory details necessary to
allow for a
> successful project and nesting season.
> Leslie Ann Rose
> Commencement Bay
> Tacoma, WA
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jon. Anderson and Marty Chaney" <festuca at>
> To: <tweeters at>
> Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2001 1:49 PM
> Subject: Fw: News Release: Caspian tern research project ends early
> > Hi folks -
> >
> > Here's some news on the Tacoma (Commencement Bay) Caspian Tern
> The
> > last couple of years, the colony was nesting on the ASARCO smelter
> on
> > plastic-covered piles of contaminated soil.  ASARCO determined to
> allow
> > the terns to nest this year, and WDFW set a barge out into
> Bay
> > to entice the terns to nest on an 'alternative' site, to study
their diet,
> > etc.  Of course, WDFW and others didn't want these birds moving
down to
> the
> > colony near the mouth of the Columbia where they might prey on
> > ESA-"endangered" salmon/steelhead, rather than the merely
> > Puget Sound chinook (as well as the Muckleshoot Tribe's 'enhanced'
> fish...).
> >
> > I realize that no one wants a bunch of fish-eating birds in their
> backyard -
> > politically, it gives the development-oriented Rush Limbaugh
> > meanies the 'out' of saying "why come after our land uses, when
> > protected birds are eating the fish".  Mind you, they'll say that,
> > it's the seals, Indians, sport fishers, commercial fishers,
drought, etc.
> > When it comes push to shove, the birds will lose out to the fish,
and the
> > fish will lose out to power production (Seattle City Light,
> > PacifiCorp, Bonneville, etc. will all operate their dams as usual
and the
> > fish will be sucking hind teat so that the "power crisis" will not
> > inconvenience us - or the Californians needing thier air
> >
> > There's no easy answer to competing resource needs, especially
when one
> > protected resource is impacting another protected resource.  The
> of
> > the charismatic mega-fauna is such that Salmon have better press
> here
> > than do the Terns.   In the long view, the fish AND the birds
suffer from
> > our poor land-use practices, poor water-resource management, and
from our
> > mis-management of the human population glut in Puget Sound.  I
think that
> it
> > sucks that the WDFW knuckled under to the Tribes' whining that the
> > would eat too many of their hatchery fish, and I just don't
believe that
> the
> > terns were impacting the "threatened" chinook enough to have our
> > Protection Agency destroy 1,000 eggs of these magnificent birds.
> >
> > I am saddened that this portion of the largest remaining
population of
> > Sterna caspia appears to be so unwelcome that they aren't allowed
> > complete nesting.  I imagine that, after we've spent enough time
> harrassing
> > them from Puget Sound, at the mouth of the Columbia, and wherever
> they
> > might move where they might eat our precious ESA-listed fish, and
> > population begins to decline, they may end up on the Endangered
> > List.  Then, we can spend millions of dollars to recover the
> > Tern.....
> >
> > Jon. (Disgruntled) Anderson
> > Olympia,  Washington
> > festuca at
> >
> >

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