State can hunt cormorants at Grand Lake St. Marys
Written by Dayton Daily News   
Thursday, 25 May 2006 13:42

Ohio Division of Wildlife District 5 officials have permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to eradicate some cormorants before they get a foothold on Grand Lake St. Marys.

"We have permission to kill up to 130 birds, but we have to go no lower than 15 nesting pairs," said Dave Kohler, district wildlife supervisor. "We haven't killed any so far, because we are trying to see how many cormorant pairs we do have there."

State agencies are regulated in the number of double-crested cormorants they destroy because the large black birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. That's why the feds are involved, assessing individual situations and deciding when cormorant problems become severe, all the while protecting the species from extinction.

Cormorant numbers, however, seem to be going up all over the Great Lakes region. Most anglers would like to see the cormorant populations wiped out. Since they eat fish, cormorants can a have devastating effect on a lake's fish population, as demonstrated by an area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula on Lake Huron.

But more than what they eat, it's what they do to vegetation with their droppings that has become a problem no matter where they nest. Ohio biologists have permission to kill all cormorants nesting on Green Island on Lake Erie because of the destruction of rare plant life. And they have killed many that have caused great damage to Lake Erie's West Sister Island and the huge blue heron rookery there.

District 5 officials are concerned about the blue heron rookery on Grand Lake St. Marys, as well. When cormorants nest among the herons, their droppings destroy the trees and not only force out the herons, but make it difficult to control the cormorant population. It becomes impossible to oil eggs from the air since the herons would be affected. Oiling eggs destroys them and is often a good way to control bird populations.

Wildlife officials also do not want to see cormorants nesting at Grand Lake because of the adverse effect they have on the fish hatchery there. Although the hatchery has its own permit to kill cormorants, the fewer in the area the better.

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