Michigan would join 15 other states that currently allow sandhill crane hunting. Some wanted to establish hunting seasons—even though nobody eats cormorants. An Ontario-wide cull began on Sept. 15, lasting until Dec. 31, 2020, allowing hunters to kill 15 birds a day. Blue herons and night herons nested there, as did herring gulls. They can chase fish in 100 feet of water. But a proposal to hunt the species within the state is gaining traction and the U.S. He says the DNR is seeking to re-negotiate an agreement with the U.S. More than 11,500 cormorant nests were counted here in 2007. “It was totally silent,” she recalls. What are cormorant birthing rituals like? Cuthbert, the ornithologist, says back then the U.S. When the ruling came down, residents of coastal communities in the Great Lakes expected the federal agency to quickly do some homework, return to court and prove control is still necessary. Dan Kennedy from Michigan DNR joined Stateside to discuss the Kirtland warbler's remarkable comeback. Cormorants destroy vegetation with their acidic feces. People who study birds are now using radar to make maps that can forecast migration at night. Goose Island, about 10 miles northeast of Mackinac Island, had been a popular place for colonial waterbirds to nest in the Great Lakes, and not just cormorants. Island residents think bass and perch fishing has improved since the birds numbers were brought down, although the ecosystem is too big and dynamic to prove cormorants caused any problems with sportfish. This pile of rocks in the middle of northern Lake Huron had 251 nests counted there this past spring. Back in June, Jeff Powers anchored his boat up alongside the east end of Whiskey Island. 2001). Wreck of the Francisco Morazan at sunset. The number of cormorant nests in Michigan has been decreasing since population reduction actions were implemented in 2004, the Department of Natural Resources announced today. So Romanik released more than 30 racoons on the island over two years, after keeping them on a strict diet of chicken eggs. Because Ludwig he has no affiliation with a university or agency, he says he is free to criticize government policy and was in fact a plaintiff in the lawsuit that stopped cormorant control in 2016. Fish and Wildlife Service had staff that did nothing but deal with cormorant complaints. Cormorants nesting on St. Martin Shoal along with herring gulls. Are cormorants social? Cormorants have direct impacts on valuable and sensitive fish populations. On Thursday, the federal agency is scheduled to host a meeting in Lansing with state and tribal officials to explore whether control is again needed in the Great Lakes to protect wild fish. Fish and Wildlife gave widespread authorization to use lethal control methods to protect sport fish. Jim Ludwig has been studying birds here his entire life. Herring gulls seen in the foreground also nest on Goose Island. It passed out of a House Committee in July. Is that the correct thing to do for the planet? The number of birds nesting in that island chain is less than a third of what it was at its peak, but fisheries biologists at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimate that cormorants still eat at least twice as many perch as anglers catch there. Cormorants destroy vegetation with their acidic feces. “We’re talking 6,000 birds just gone,” Cuthbert says. In the Les Cheneaux Islands, some research shows that the collapse of the yellow perch fishery around 2000 corresponded closely with rising cormorant numbers. The birds will eat other fish, but Bowles said those species aren’t plentiful enough to sustain them. But anglers and some congressmen say there are still too many and they eat too many fish. They’re found all over North America and nest in the spring on remote islands in the Great Lakes. Sign in or register for your free account, Local naturalist would rather let nature run its course; 'The cormorants are doing us a favour' by eating invasive fish, he counters. But the amount of fish in Lake Michigan has been in steep decline now for 20 years and is at record low levels. “I’m not one to see our wildlife killed unless it’s going to be eaten,” he added. “We’ve had increases (in cormorant numbers) before and they tend to balance out over time,” he said. As the drone made its way over the land, Powers was surprised to see how far the dead trees extend into the island. This whole cormorant thing is the tip of that iceberg.”. Double-crested cormorants nest on Green Island near the Mackinac Bridge, one of the few places where they come into contact with many people. There are renewed calls to kill cormorants in the Great Lakes. “I’m fond of saying that all a colonial waterbird had to do was fly out over the lake and open its bill and fall in and it’d have a fish,” says Ludwig, an American scientist who lives in Canada and works independently. He pulled out a drone and sent it buzzing over a colony of cormorants nesting in a swath of dead trees along the beach. The view that double-crested cormorants are an invader that threaten the natural integrity of the ecosystem is a common sentiment in upper Michigan. Francie Cuthbert, an ornithologist from the University of Minnesota who visited the island then, says it was like a ghost town. It was a marriage of my passions for the outdoors and the internet. Cormorants did not return for a few years, but 426 nests were counted this year. Others, including the National Audubon Society and the Humane Society of the United States, rallied to the cormorants’ defense, citing a lack of scientific evidence that cormorants actually damage fish or wildlife populations. Double-crested cormorants June 29, 2016. He says what happened in the 1980s and 90s was unusual because the lakes were full of little fish like alewives and smelt, but very few predator fish were around to eat them. Double-crested cormorants were decimated nationally in the 20th century by the use of toxic pesticides like DDT. Interlochen Public Radio's Peter Payette reports on the new push to control cormorants to protect Great Lakes fish. Altogether, well over half a million birds have been killed this side of the Mississippi since 2000 and countless eggs sprayed with oil to keep chicks from hatching. From the perspective of islanders, the birds remain an existential threat. In late 1999, we started our first message board. “What will life be like if natural systems are gone, if all natural systems are all quote managed,” he asks. So far, that has not happened, though the government announced last year that individual lethal control permits would be granted on a case-by-case basis if the applicant could show proof of damage or safety risks caused by the birds. Orillia Coun. Cormorants have big webbed feet and are built to swim. Banning these chemicals and adding the bird to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act allowed their numbers to rise dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s. delivering it to an approved waste disposal site that permits the disposal of dead animals; delivering it to a disposal facility, or using the services of a licensed collector, under the Disposal of Deadstock Regulation (Ontario Regulation 105/09) made under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001; burying it on private land owned by the hunter, or on private land occupied by the hunter with consent of the land owner. “The only long-term solution is continued control.”. The double-crested cormorant is a goose-sized waterbird native to North America. The birds had been chased off by racoons, brought to the island in a boat by Chet Romanik, a hunter from Cheboygan. The ministry stated, “If hunters choose to not use the birds they harvest, they must dispose of the birds by either: More information about the hunting of cormorants can be found here.