2006 Cormorant Control Actions Announced
Written by MI DNR   
Monday, 05 June 2006 04:52

The Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, has identified several areas in the state where double-crested cormorant control activities will occur this year.

Once extirpated in the state due to dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other contaminants, cormorants have increased to record numbers in the Great Lakes region, according to DNR wildlife officials. In response to the potential damage these high numbers could have on fish, wildlife and other resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the local control of populations in areas where cormorants are causing damage. Under these rules, USDA Wildlife Services control activities began in 2004 at the Les Cheneaux Islands and Drummond Island. Activities were expanded in 2005 and will again be expanded this year.

It appears cormorants have the highest potential to cause negative impacts to fish or other natural resources in two situations, said Raymond Rustem, Wildlife Division natural heritage unit supervisor. The first is the migratory flocks of birds that move through Michigan. During this period, large flocks of birds may feed in shallow waters of lakes during the brief period they move through Michigan.

The second situation is when cormorants have established breeding colonies. Research indicates that cormorant breeding colonies may play a role in reducing game fish populations in localized areas.

One strategy to help with cormorant control is harassment reinforced with a limited take of birds. USDA Wildlife Services are working with local volunteer agents to conduct these activities at Long and Grand lakes in Alpena County, Potagannissing Bay on Drummond Island, Brevoort Lake, Manistique and South Manistique lakes in Mackinac County, Indian Lake in Schoolcraft County, and Lake Huron off Rockport in Alpena County.

Three sites in Michigan are targeted for egg oiling and reductions in adult breeding birds by USDA Wildlife Services. The Les Cheneaux Islands will continue as one site of population reduction attempts. Nesting colonies in Thunder Bay and Bays De Noc will also receive treatment.

The DNR will be monitoring fish populations at sites with control actions to document how fish populations respond to cormorant control activities.

Our goal is to use the best scientific data (fisheries and wildlife) available to manage cormorants at biologically and socially acceptable levels, said Bill Moritz, chief of the Wildlife Division.

The DNR is cooperating in a survey to identify and count breeding pairs in the state. Survey data will be combined with information from other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to obtain a full breeding population count of double-crested cormorants on the Great Lakes.

The DNR has developed an online form for citizens to report cormorant activities. The department will use this information to identify cormorant migration patterns and locations where large concentrations of birds cause concern. Citizens are encouraged to report such sites at www.dnr.state.mi.us/cormorantobs/ .

You need to login or register to post comments.