Lawmakers hope bill will control cormorant population
Written by News 10 Now Syracuse   
Sunday, 01 April 2007 05:42

We need to get a handle on them. It's something that's long past overdue," said Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine.The cormorant population along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario was never this bad. Tens of thousands of the nuisance birds are eating all the fish and destroying one of the North Country's economic winners, sport fishing.

Before last year, both DEC law enforcement officials and Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resource employees were allowed to use suppressed weapons like rifles to cull the birds.

"Unfortunately, an internal decision by DEC has restricted our use of that. That adversely affects our ability to manage the population," said State Senator Jim Wright.

DEC took the weapons away from the division employees in a move lawmakers say was the wrong one. As a result, they are sponsoring a bill that would give those employees the right to use those weapons once again.

Sunday is a big day for fisherman all across the state. Trout season officially opens. But in the North Country, where fishing is a big part of the economy, a single type of bird is causing big problems. News 10 Now's Brian Dwyer has more on what lawmakers are doing to control the damage.
"I think we all recognize that conservation officers have a number of duties and are spread very thin across large regions like our own," Wright said.

"DEC law enforcement officials just don't have the personnel to set aside to help control the cormorant population," Aubertine added.

But Aubertine said the problem is bigger than just this area. He's visited Canada on several occasions and says he doesn't feel they have the funding or the recognition of just how much damage these birds do. He's trying to help change that.

"The cormorants don't recognize the border. They fly back and forth without going through customs. They eat fish on both sides," Aubertine said.
Aubertine said if the birds are controlled on both sides of the border, it would obviously help both sides attract the fisherman they need to keep it that economic winner.

Both lawmakers said training will be required for officers before using the rifles.
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