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.
Could cormortants actually be good for a lake's game-fish population? A study done at Leech Lake, site of an even larger cormorant fluster some years ago, said this: "It is quite possible that the cormorant predation on small perch has actually enabled wallleyes to survive in higher numbers and to grow faster.
Maybe that’s happening in Lake Waconia. A 2010 survey of fish in the lake by biologists from the fisheries division of the Minnesota DNR found game fish to be average or above in both number and size. Hey, if you want good fishing, fish Lake Waconia.
Another theory is that the presence of a large cormorant population means the lake is over-stocked. (Walleyes, for instance, are stocked in Lake Waconia every year.) Over-stocking means a bounty of small fish, plenty for cormorants to eat, plenty to be eaten by, say, the perch that cormorants eat, and plenty for game fish to eat.
Is the lake over-stocked? I don’t know. Can fishermen compete with an over-supply of natural food? I don’t know. I doubt if the complainers in Waconia know.
Did our unusual wet/hot spring and summer keep some fishermen at home? I don’t know. I doubt if the complainers in Waconia have even thought about that. How about the general condition of the economy? Could that be a factor? And so on.
What irks me is the reluctance in Waconia to explore reasons beyond those obvious large black birds diving for fish out there on the lake. Seeing the birds is knowing the worst, according to the mayor. Who needs facts? End of discussion.
City officials have gone so far as to ask Congressmen John Kline and Colin Peterson to introduce a bill in Congress to make it easier to get permission from the federal government to kill these protected birds. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. It has about a dozen co-sponsors in the House, no sponsors yet in the Senate.
All of this is so bogus. You’d think politicians in Waconia and Washington might have better things to do.
Actually, in Waconia they do. Governor Dayton will hold the governor’s annual fishing opener event in Waconia next spring. Waconia placed the winning bid with the state tourism department, earning the right to be host city. There’s lots of work ahead. The chill running up the back of city officials and businessmen is the thought that the opener with its attendant press coverage will be a bust.
Or, maybe that the governor will get wind of this unnecessary attack on a protected bird species (letters, anyone?), and begin to ask questions.
There are plenty of fish in the lake, so if plans move ahead, the governor and his buddies should have a good day out there. But, if they don't, you know who’s going to get the blame.
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