I read an article on Yahoo! News the other day titled: Mich. Tries to Clamp Down on Cormorants
and was pretty disappointed. It seems that Double-Crested Cormorants, which were down to 89 nesting pairs on the Great Lakes in the 70's, have responded to tougher pollution standards and now number more than 100,000 nesting pairs.
Their rebound has not been celebrated by everyone, however. Sportsmen in the area are up in arms about the number of fish these birds are eating and have begun efforts, with federal funding, to kill, scare away or oil the eggs of the birds.
The issue has once again inflamed the conflict between conservationists and sportsmen. The irony of this situation, though, as I discovered on several websites including this messageboard
, is that the cormorants seem to be helping the fisherman instead of hurting them. Cormorants have been feeding most heavily on alewife, a small baitfish not native to the great lakes. It seems that the decline in alewife population has been beneficial to populations of gamefish that people actually want to catch, especially walleye.
The fact that so much federal action has been undertaken without, obviously, an effective study of whether or not these birds are actually hurting the fishing industry, is unfortunate. I wonder what would happen if such an immediate and lucrative response from Congress could be given to people who wanted to protect species instead of 'control' them?
The worst part of the whole article is the opening quote from Jimmie Miller, a 67 year old man who was probably interviewed while sitting on his JetSki on his lakeside cabin with a freshly-paved driveway:
"We're taking our lake back."
Yeah. Take that, nature.