Bills target cormorants
Written by Kalamazoo Gazette   
Friday, 03 August 2007 01:18

State lawmakers are turning up the heat on a black diving bird with a hearty appetite for Great Lakes fish.  Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign a new three-bill package of laws targeting the double-crested cormorant.

Anglers such as Prudenville's Larry Meier support the legislation.

"We've got to continue working on this cormorant program, because (the birds) are just killing tourism,'' Meier said. ``When you take out the fishery, you lose the tourists.''

Meier has lobbied state and federal officials for nine years to do something to control cormorants on the Great Lakes. He says cormorants are eating too many perch and other game-fish species, including fish planted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The migratory birds primarily nest in northern waters, although colonies are established on Charity Island in Saginaw Bay. Meier said he has seen a flock of about 200 birds on Roscommon County's Houghton Lake near his home, as well.

The federal government began a program in 2004 to reduce cormorant numbers by destroying eggs and shooting some adult birds. The program received about $300,000 in state and federal funding this year.

Peter Butchko, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wildlife services director in Michigan, said about a third of the cormorants nesting on islands in Alpena's Thunder Bay have been killed this year and state fish plantings have been moved away from known cormorant nesting sites.
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