As you might have read in an issue of the StarTribune last week, Double-crested Cormorants now are part of the discussion about fishing problems in Mille Lacs lake. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the birds were not under the gun this time. Wrong. It just took a few more days.
"Under the gun" is an appropriate phrase. I wrote about cormorants at Leech Lake in 2006. Walleye fishing was going bad, according to fishermen and businesspeople in the lakeside town of Walker. The birds got the blame. Since 2004, sharpshooters working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have shot a reported 25,000 cormorants at Leech. That harvest is now an annual event, thinning the nesting cormorant population to what officially is considered manageable. Fishing is said to have improved greatly. Research done in 2006 at the lake found scant evidence that cormorants were eating walleye. They were eating other small fish, which I assume, walleye also eat.
Cormorants are beautiful birds. The widespread conflict is unfortunate. Below, a Double-crested Cormorant.