Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

A few more words on cormorants

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation Updated: November 9, 2011 - 8:01 AM

 Cormorants are becoming my favorite bird. And they always can use another friend. Generally speaking, cormorants – all 34 species world-wide -- are hated. That’s the opinion of Dr. Francesca Cuthbert, University of Minnesota expert on colonial waterbirds. (Colonial birds nest in tight colonies. Herons and egrets also are colonial nesters.)

Why would anyone hate a bird? It’s ignorance, plain and simple. If you know the facts about the bird, there’s no reason to let cormorants upset you. If casting blame is your intent, cormorants are easy targets.

If you read Tom Meersman’s fine article in the StarTrib last week, you know about the cormorant flap currently playing out in Waconia. My column today in the Home and Garden section addresses the same subject.

Briefly, fishing in Lake Waconia this past season was seen as slower than usual. Local businessmen suffered. According to many, particularly Waconia Mayor Jim Nash, the cormorant did it.

Cormorants are a fish-eating bird species that nests on an island in the lake.

The belief is that the cormorants are eating so many bait (small) fish that the game fish are starving or stunted. (Wouldn’t starving fish be easier to catch?)

Mayor Nash wants to see tighter control of cormorant population. He believes that will return fishing to its usual bountiful condition.

Jennifer Douchette has been working on her doctorate at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Her subject is the relationship of cormorants to game fish. She’s been following the Minnesota cormorant problems.

“As for competition,” she wrote me in an email,” there are very few instances where cormorants have been documented as negatively impacting sport fish populations.”

continued Tuesday, Nov. 10

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