Minnesota Representatives John Kline and Collin Peterson are introducing a bill that would allow states more “control” over Double-crested Cormorant populations. “Control” means killing large numbers of birds, as obviously, without human “control”, nature can’t take care of itself.
This little blurb on the Minnesota Public Radio website doesn’t address it, but the real reason behind efforts like this to kill Cormorants is sportsmen. Fishermen in many parts of the Great Lakes blame Cormorants for declines in sport fish populations. I’m a fisherman. I see the TREMENDOUS pressure fishermen place on some fish populations, with species balances, fish populations, and fish size completely out of whack due to overharvest of “prime” species for fishermen like walleye or bass. But yet when fish populations decline, fishermen refuse to look in the mirror and blame themselves. No, it HAS to be this population of Double-crested Cormorants, so of course the only solution is to kill them all.
This isn’t an isolated event. In the Northeast, commercial fishermen blame seals for declines in fish populations. This despite the virtual crash of cod populations WELL before seal populations started to increase. Overfishing by commercial fishermen is obviously to blame off the New England coast, but yet fishermen there want seal populations killed. Some fishermen are even taking matters into their own hands, as seals that have been shot are being found in the area. The issue is similar to hunters who want Wolves shot in Alaska, so there are more Moose for people themselves to kill.
Cormorants eat fish. Seals eat fish. But it is ludicrous to say cormorants and seals are decimating local fish populations. If that were the case, cormorant and seal populations themselves would crash. I have no doubt the effect cormorants and seals have on fish populations in the Great Lakes, and in New England, respectively, is very minor compared to the influence of recreational and commercial fishermen. As a fishermen, I find these sorts of efforts extremely sad, as it really casts a bad light over fishermen in general. Sadly, some folks won’t be happy until every single predator of “their” fish is killed.