would let states use lethal force
Green Bay Press Gazette
January 13, 2001
ASHWAUBENON The thousands of double-crested cormorants
that called the bay of Green Bay home last summer are living
it up now in the warmth and sunshine of the southern U.S.
Length: 27 inches
Wingspan: 50 inches
Weight: Adults weigh 4 to 5 pounds
Background: One of six cormorant species
nationwide and 38 worldwide. They nest along the
coast from southwest Alaska to Mexico, and on lakes
from north-central Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Description: Both sexes dark plumage
bears a greenish gloss. Slender, hooked bills, with
webbed feet set well back on their body, orange
facial skin and an orange throat pouch. Juveniles
have gray or tan plumage.
Breeding habitat: Breed in colonies ranging
from several pairs to thousands. They build their
nests of twigs and branches beginning in April.
Adults are ready to breed at age 3 or 4. Eggs are
laid in mid- to late April and hatch about 25 days
later. A typical nest has two or three chicks.
Diet: Adults eat an average of 1 pound of
fish per day mostly small, bottom-dwelling
or schooling forage fish. They rely on many species
of fish, but concentrate on those that are easiest
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will accept comments
on a plan to manage cormorant populations through
Feb. 28. Mail to the services Division of
Migratory Bird Management, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive,
Room 634, Arlington, VA 22203. Fax comments to (703)
Its a good thing for the cormorants, too, because
Monday night wasnt a good time to be a cormorant
in Green Bay.
cormorant is nothing but a flying rat, said Green
Bay resident Ken Murray. Some way, they have to
Murray was one of about a dozen people who aired similar
views at a meeting on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
plan to manage cormorant populations nationwide. All but
one asked for tough population controls. The meeting here
was the first of 10 listening sessions scheduled from
Portland, Ore. to Burlington, Vt., in coming weeks. About
65 people attended Mondays meeting.
Fish and Wildlife has proposed a management plan whose
centerpiece is a Public Resource Depredation Order.
The order would let states, tribes and federal agencies
use lethal force to control the birds, which are protected
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Management of migratory
birds falls under the aegis of Fish and Wildlife, not
state agencies such as Wisconsins Department of
Double-crested cormorants are native to North America
but not the Great Lakes. They moved into the Great Lakes
basin in the early 1900s, then nearly vanished in the
1960s when the pesticide DDT cut nesting success to near
zero. Fish and Wildlife biologists estimate cormorant
nests increased an average of 29 percent every year in
the 1970s and 1980s. Recent estimates peg the U.S. and
Canadian population at 2 million birds.
Cormorants eat fish. Growing numbers of the birds have
sparked calls for population controls from sport and commercial
fishermen in Great Lake states. Many fishermen believe
cormorants are a factor in the steep decline of yellow
perch in the bay of Green Bay, though studies so far dont
support the claim.
and Wildlife considered six management plans before recommending
a middle-of-the-road course. The simplest plan called
for no change in current management. The most extreme
would have created a hunting season on the birds.
No one who spoke at Mondays meeting said they liked
the idea of a hunting season.
not asking for a hunting season because you cant
use the resource, said Pete Petrouske, a member
of the Brown County Conservation Alliance and a backer
of population control.
Suamico commercial fisherman Tom Peters told federal regulators
theyd made a mess of things.
there were experts in this, we wouldnt have this
problem now, he said. The only experts we
need are experts out there with shotguns to control them.
Rick Johnson, a commercial fisherman from Gills Rock,
at the tip of northern Door County, said the birds had
created an economic hardship for fishermen.
feel strongly that Wisconsin needs control for cormorants,
said Johnson, president of the Northeast Wisconsin Commercial
one person, Green Bay resident Mark Tweedale, spoke against
Tweedale said studies suggest that exotic species, not
cormorants, are to blame for the decline of yellow perch
in the bay.
Tweedale has lived on the Green Bay shoreline for 27 years.
Overall, he said, the bays fishery is healthy. He
compared the majesty of big flocks of cormorants
foraging for fish with similar sites from the Florida
say leave well enough alone, but I think Im probably
a lone wolf here, Tweedale said.