Local News – Predator Control Program Causes Concern; Winds Hamper Power Restoration Efforts

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Predator Control Causes Alarm…

A discovery on an area beach last Friday was very concerning to Erinn Holmes.  The local resident was hiking a trail near Siltcoos Outlet last Friday.

Holmes – “Walking the dog, and there is what appeared to be an egg right out of the grocery store but it has a pink stamped skull and crossbones on it and looking at the egg, you know, like what the heck?  And you can see where it was injected with something.”

Holmes said he found one egg and his dog found another.  At first he wasn’t sure if it was someone’s idea of a prank or something more nefarious. He called Oregon wildlife officials who told him to call law enforcement.  The Lane County Sheriff’s, hampered by budget cuts said they would have someone contact him in a few days.  Along the way, the avid surfer and beachcomber said he realized the eggs were discovered near what has historically been a nesting area for endangered Western Snowy Plovers.

Holmes – “These eggs were in an area that would be cordoned off when the signs are put up, but there were no signs.  And we go down there every day.”

Ultimately, it was determined that the eggs were part of a predator control program to increase the success of the threatened species.  Officials say they posed no threat to domestic animals or even other wildlife.

Poisoned eggs, marked with a pink skull and crossbones, are part of predator control efforts to help preserve the Western Snowy Plover. (photo by Erinn Holmes)

Those poisoned eggs found near Siltcoos Outlet last week were indeed part of a predator control program aimed at helping the Western Snowy Plover.  Dave Williams is the Oregon Director of the USDA Wildlife Services Program.  Just one of several state and federal agencies that have had a hand in restoring the bird’s population.  Those efforts began more than 20 years ago and were initially met with limited success.  It wasn’t until researchers made a startling discovery that his agency was called in to help.

Williams – “60% of all known nest failures were attributed to predators, with crows and ravens, or commonly referred to collectively as Corvids, as well as some mammalian predators, in particular red fox.”

The USDA Wildlife Services uses a variety of methods to help control predators.

Williams – “Our role was to deploy some of these tools and for Corvids the avicide known as DRC 1339 is a very important tool, very effective tool, a very safe tool to utilize on the beaches.”

Williams said it was unfortunate that the poisoned eggs went out ahead of signage and public information that could have prevented concern.  But, he says, there was never any danger to people, pets or even other wildlife.  The poison is particularly lethal to Corvids, but has no impact on even much smaller birds.

Williams – “The same amount that would be a lethal dose for a crow or raven does absolutely nothing to a sparrow and a dog would have to eat dozens of these eggs.”

Nesting area protections are going up this week along the Oregon Coast at several nesting sites.  They’ll remain in place until nesting season ends in the fall.

Winds Hamper Power Restoration Efforts

Aided by line crews from outside the area, utility workers from Central Lincoln PUD worked steadily through the day yesterday and into last night.  Their aim was to restore power to the thousands of residents left in the dark following this week’s snowfall.  By the end of the day they had cut the list of an estimated 1,000 customers in half.  Efforts to restore power to the remaining 500 or so resumed this morning, but windy weather is expected to hamper that.   Work will focus on the North Fork; North of Sutton Lake and in the Ada and Siltcoos Station areas, as well as Mapleton.  Classes at Mapleton Schools were cancelled for the third straight day because of the power outage.

Sustained winds in excess of 55 miles an hour were recorded earlier this morning at Sea Lion Caves with the highest gust reaching 72 miles an hour.  Meanwhile at the Siuslaw River Entrance sustained winds of 46 miles an hour, gusting to 56 were clocked.

The extended power outages for several people prompted the Western Lane Emergency Operations Group, along with the Red Cross to open an emergency shelter last night for those without lights and heat.  Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief John Buchanan said the center, at the Florence Church of the Nazarene on 12th Street, can handle up to 50 people.  Western Lane Ambulance District was handling phone calls and assisting residents last night… even providing transportation to those who could not get there on their own.

Efforts to Cut Tsunami Warning System Protested

A move to cut funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration triggered a quick response from several west coast Senators this week.  Among them were Oregon’s Senate delegation, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed cuts to NOAA’s tsunami program.  That’s the system that provides early warning to state and local agencies in the event of a tsunami alert.  Wyden and Merkley joined with Senators from California, Hawaii and Washington State in protesting the proposed cuts.