Human persecution and pesticide poisoning drove Double-crested cormorants to the brink of extinction. Remarkably, this magnificent native water bird has rebounded and is now repopulating parts of its former range in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, many people view the return of cormorants as abnormal and claim that cormorant populations are out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A great deal of misinformation about cormorants has been spread by anglers and wildlife managers fueling an organized war against the birds on both sides of the border. Cormorant Defenders International (CDI), of which Animal Alliance is a part, was formed to respond to the assault on cormorants and to respond to the many erroneous claims made about them.
The most significant threat to Double-crested cormorants are the very agencies charged with their protection.
Premier Ford and his government are proposing one of the most regressive wildlife “management” decisions in Canadian history. The proposed changes are rooted in an irrational hatred for cormorants that will fuel their persecution and drive them back to the brink of extinction, or worse, in the province.
A recent Environmental Registry of Ontario posting (https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124) announced that the Government is seeking input on a proposed change to the province’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that will:
- designate double-crested cormorants as a “game” bird species,
- create a province wide annual hunting season from March 15 until December 31,
- allow anyone holding a valid Ontario Outdoors Card and small game hunting license to kill up to 50 cormorants per day (1,500 per month or more than 14,000 per season) and,
- allow the carcasses to spoil (i.e., rot).
The Government’s proposal would:
- cause unimaginable cruelty by allowing the wholesale, uncontrolled, impossible to monitor, slaughter of cormorants across the province,
- devastate and possibly eradicate a recovered native wildlife species,
- result in disturbance, destruction and death of numerous federally protected non-target bird species such as Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and White Pelicans,
- irreparably damage natural ecosystems,
- encourage the worst form of “slob hunting,” and
- endanger the public by allowing hunters to discharge firearms throughout the spring, summer and fall season when lakes and natural areas are populated by cottagers and tourists.