POLL: Should cormorants be culled to protect local fisheries?

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The House Natural Resources Committee met in Alpena, Michigan for a field hearing on double-crested (Phalacrocorax auritus) management.

Cormorants are migratory birds and are therefore regulated under the . However, recreational and commercial fishermen around the Great Lakes say growing populations have negatively impacted local fisheries.

Previously, managers were allowed to use lethal force to reduce the bird population in the Great Lakes. In 2014, the extended the Public Resource Depredation Order for five years. In 2016, a federal judge vacated the order, saying it violated the National Environmental Policy Act, and ordered the USFWS to complete a new environmental assessment.

Double-crested Cormorants in Cootes Paradise, Hamilton, Canada

Soon after the assessment was released in November 2017, Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, introduced a bill (H.R. 4429) that would direct the Interior secretary to reissue the depredation order.

“Without the ability to effectively manage cormorant populations the livelihood of our recreational and commercial fishing industries is seriously threatened,” Bergman said during the hearing. “These industries are critical to our local economies.”

Tom Cooper, the USFWS Migratory Bird Program Chief for the Midwest Region, said that the 2017 assessment did not address the effects of cormorants on free-swimming fish due to a lack of scientific information. USFWS is currently collecting information from state and local stakeholders.

“Until this evaluation and potential NEPA review process is complete, the [Interior] Department supports legislation authorizing the take of problem birds through a temporary, short-term reinstatement of the depredation orders,” Cooper said.

Daniel Eichinger, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said cormorants prefer fish around six inches or smaller. Primarily feeding on small or juvenile fish can affect annual recruitment for fish populations. Lack of recruitment has long-term effects on fisheries, and managers may not see the effects for more than a year.

Bergman’s bill was considered in a hearing with the House Federal Lands Subcommittee in February but has not been reported to the full House for consideration.

This article was first published by The Wildlife Society on 28 Jun 2018.

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Should cormorants be culled to protect local fisheries?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Debbie Macmilan
Debbie Macmilan

Leave the fish in the sea. Humans can do without fish but some birds and sea mammals need to eat fish to survive!

Annick Baud
Annick Baud

When will humans stop playing “masters” of planet Earth??? The web of life, in which every living creature is connected to the whole, has existed way before humans appeared, and will continue way after. So please try to learn from it, instead of disrupting or destroying it. And all these regulations in the name of sacrosanct Money!! The absurdity and folly of mankind has no limit…

Christine Minatelli

Hell no!!

Patty Shenker