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Anti-oil protests coincide with blue heron nesting season

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The Shell Puget Sound Refinery on the south end of March Point. Padilla Bay is in the background. (Photo: Shell)

ANACORTES, Wash. (AP) _ Thousands of people are planning to rally in Anacortes this weekend to protest the oil flowing from two refineries in the area.

But some worry protesters on land and in kayaks could also interfere with the region’s largest colony of great blue herons.

Biologist Ann Eissinger tells KUOW-FM (http://goo.gl/1r92by ) that the cause may be noble but the timing and location of the event are terrible for about 1,700 adult herons that breed at March Point. The birds are currently are foraging to feed the babies in their nests. She’s worried all the activity from the protests do real damage.

Event spokesman Ahmed Gaya says organizers have adjusted their plans to minimize the impact on herons. They’ve moved the location to avoid critical habitat, modified when kayakers would be in the bay and make other changes.

He says the oil refineries ultimately pose a bigger threat to the birds.