Canadian Canoe Routes

Cormorant hunting season
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Author:  red pine [ January 1st, 2019, 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Cormorant hunting season

Alas, comments need to be submitted by Jan pls take a moment to look at this!
Regardless of your personal opinion of whether cormorants are evil or not, the idea of guys with guns on the waterways from March through December is frightening. At the very least, the season must be limited to a maximum of 2 weeks... so the rest of us can feel comfortable paddling the open waters.

Here is the background and text. Go to to submit comments.

Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) populations declined significantly in the Great Lakes from the 1950s to the 1970s primarily due to environmental contaminants affecting reproduction. Their numbers began to increase rapidly from the 1970s to the early 2000s, with the latest information indicating Great Lakes populations have since stabilized or declined slightly.

There continues to be concerns expressed by some groups (commercial fishing industry, property owners) and individuals that cormorants have been detrimental to fish populations, island forest habitats, other species and aesthetics.

To respond to these concerns, the Ministry is proposing to create a hunting season for double-crested cormorants in Ontario. This new population management tool would allow persons who hold a small game licence to hunt these birds.

The following regulatory changes are being proposed to create a hunting season for double-crested cormorants beginning in 2019:

1) List the double-crested cormorant as a “Game Bird”. Hunters would be required to have an outdoors card and small game licence to hunt double-crested cormorants, similar to other species of game birds.

2) Create an open hunting season for double-crested cormorant from March 15 to December 31 each year across the province.

3) Create an exemption allowing small game licences to be valid for double-crested cormorant hunting in central and northern Ontario from June 16 to August 31 each year.

4) Establish a bag limit of 50 cormorants/day with no possession limit.

5) Prescribe shotgun and shot size/type requirements consistent with migratory bird hunting regulations outlined in the federal Migratory Birds Regulations. This would include use of shotguns that are not larger than 10 gauge, that cannot hold more than three shells and use non-toxic shot as described in the migratory bird regulations.

6) Allow hunting from a stationary motorboat.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act currently prohibits anyone who kills game wildlife (including game birds), or who possesses game wildlife killed by hunting, from allowing that meat to spoil. Via this posting, the Ministry is also consulting on a proposal to amend the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to add provisions so hunters could allow cormorant to spoil. This proposal would add provisions to the Act, so that persons who lawfully hunt (or possess) cormorants could be exempt from this requirement and would be subject to conditions that require the person to retrieve and dispose of the carcass. Should this proposal proceed, it may be accompanied by regulations to implement the exemption and requirements.

To accompany the proposed hunting seasons, the Ministry will implement a cormorant monitoring program to assess population status and trends. Monitoring of cormorants will allow the Ministry to assess the impacts of the hunting season and to adjust cormorant hunting regulations if necessary to address any concerns about population sustainability.

The Ministry intends to amend the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and supporting regulations (including Ontario Regulation 670/98 Open Seasons, Ontario Regulation 665/98 Hunting) to implement the proposal should it proceed. No additional opportunity for comments will be provided.

Author:  Petit.Conan [ January 2nd, 2019, 10:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

I wonder if it would be possible to add Canada goose (Branta canadensis) into this hunting season? seems like time both these species are evaluated again.

Author:  kinguq [ January 3rd, 2019, 9:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

Call it what it is: a wildlife cull.

Cormorants are a native species recovering from a population collapse. The numbers we see today are presumably close to their historical population levels.

For some reason people don't like these birds. Yes, they eat fish. So do loons. I don't hear anyone calling for a loon cull. Seems like it is mostly an aesthetic issue. There are "good" animals and "bad" animals, and the bad ones deserve to die.

I am not against hunting, and have been a hunter myself. But I cannot imagine participating in this. They even want to relax the regulations so "hunters" can waste the meat. It is outrageous.

If anyone has a valid scientific argument for why this should be done, I would love to hear it.


Author:  RHaslam [ January 3rd, 2019, 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

How to eat a cormorant - Place three large rocks in the bottom of a large pot. Throw in water and three skinned cormorant breasts. Bring to boil, the simmer for six hours. Drain pot, throw cormorants out and eat the rocks.

Author:  raven4 [ January 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

I live on a reserve in N. the last 17 years I have seen the cormorant population go from almost zero (maybe it was zero I can't remember for sure) to the point of hundreds and hundreds on certain lakes...I have asked local Dene elders if they had those birds around in their younger days. They do not have a name for the cormorant, it is invasive, they do not know what the bird is. The cormorants colonize islands and sections of shoreline and have completely killed all vegetation including ALL the trees they land in due to their droppings. The stench in these areas is overwhelming. I have heard it said that they eat only rough fish...not true as I have seen them downing other local species that we eat. Preston lake, one of the head water lakes of the Clearwater River, was once a protected Pelican colony, now overrun by cormorant. The lake water used to crystal clear lake trout water, now in summer it is "filthy" for lack of a better term.

Author:  kinguq [ January 4th, 2019, 9:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

RHaslam wrote:
How to eat a cormorant - Place three large rocks in the bottom of a large pot. Throw in water and three skinned cormorant breasts. Bring to boil, the simmer for six hours. Drain pot, throw cormorants out and eat the rocks.

RHaslam, have you ever eaten cormorant? Just wondering. Many people in coastal areas enjoy the flavour of sea ducks of various species.

Raven4, I don't know about the situation in Saskatchewan, but here they are definitely not an invasive species. They were nearly wiped out by pesticide residues and culling in Ontario, but have recently (i.e. in my lifetime, and I am about 60) made a comeback. They are a colonial species and their distribution can be very clustered, so they appear very abundant in certain areas, and not in others. If there are conservation concerns due to competition with threatened species, such as pelicans, that could be addressed through localized culls. What I object to is the targeted extirpation of a native species of Ontario.


Author:  Pook [ January 4th, 2019, 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

I've got to agree with Kinguq on this one.

We have a family cottage on Georgian Bay and the increase in Cormorants from about 2000 to 2010 was exponential but seems to have levelled off since. And while I'm not a particular fan of the bird, and I've noted the destructive habits of the colonies, I am appalled at the idea of a provincially sanctioned hunting free for all on the birds. Especially abhorrent is the wasting of the birds.

Lets rethink this please.

Author:  frozentripper [ January 4th, 2019, 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

If the cormorant cull is approved, it'll be interesting to see who wins, the cormorants, or the fishermen. Will shooting them out be enough to control their numbers? Esp over the long term, will fishermen have the guts and endurance to keep going out year after year to keep shooting? Interesting experiment, if it does happen. Also, possible objections to the gunfire... I could see birdwatchers, paddlers, boaters, anglers, having some objections if the disturbance goes on and on.

Comments on the EBR registry aren't available for reading yet, at least not for me after a quick look. Also interesting, if there are more objectors to the cull, than those in favor in the registry numbers, will the cull go ahead anyway... (I sense some pro-cull bias on the part of MNRF here but maybe that's only my predisposition to see/imagine hidden agendas everywhere in government, esp during these buck-a-beer, for-the-people days, never mind the voters' rights to public consultation).

Author:  RHaslam [ January 4th, 2019, 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

Personally, I don't shoot anything I don't eat. I won't be shooting any cormorants. Fish eating ducks are not on my menu. There will be more of this sort of thing as climate change occurs. 20 years ago, I had never seen a pelican in my neck of the woods. Now there are thousands. Many of the local outfitters have no love for the pelicans. Turkey vultures were unknown before 2000, now they are a regular.

People, birds, ducks, fish, mammals are always on the move. Invasive asian carp are probably a bigger threat. Should we kill them all? My position is only if they taste good, so the cormorants and carp are safe.

Author:  martin2007 [ January 4th, 2019, 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

Orthodox thinking years ago was that wolves were our nemesis, so they were extirpated from regions across the globe. And bison were good fun to shoot at from trains. Whooping cranes? So many species enthusiastically eliminated by angry or reckless "sportsmen" convinced of the wisdom of vigilante-style wildlife management. For sure the cormorant has very few friends amongst fishermen. Does that mean, though, that fishermen have a thorough understanding of the complexities of that species' interaction with other species?

Author:  Ted [ January 4th, 2019, 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

It didn't take that many years before my favourite camping island in Georgian Bay went from a shady spot where I could put a rain/sun tarp to this total destruction. I have zero love lost for cormorants. I've never seen another bird completely destroy an area like they can. Any chance they can be used as fertilizer?

Author:  wotrock [ January 6th, 2019, 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

they spook fairly easily. need to be a crack shot, IMO. not sure how many hunters could kill.

Author:  joshmanicus [ January 6th, 2019, 8:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

I was listening to a discussion on the cormorant cull on the CBC and they had the minister of natural resources on, as well as a scientist who studies them. After that, they had a number of people calling in with their opinions on them.

I listened to John Yakabuski (the minister of natural resources) and he didn't mention a single scientific study in his case. From what I gather, he was interested in culling the cormorants because they're stealing the fish that people could be catching instead. He was also talking about the blight they create. He was also saying that what he was proposing was the most "cost effective" way of managing the cormorant population.

The scientist they had on the show was basically saying that as far as she's aware, there hasn't been a scientific case made for a province wide hunt on the scale that is being proposed. She went on to say that it is not really a great time to implement a hunt because they might find out that the population drops on it's own if they wait a little while longer. They'll never know the natural ebb and flow of the cormorant population if they start blasting them now.

There were calls from all sorts of people. Some people were really upset about the idea (some of whom had been doing amateur field naturalist studies on their local populations), others were frothing at the mouth to start blasting, while there was a considerable muddled middle ground.

The middle ground folks were saying that they didn't feel like it was their job as hunters to waste shells, gas up the truck / boat to go out and kill birds that they're going to be responsible for disposing of. There were a considerable amount of boaters from the GTA and the Thousand Islands who were absolutely appalled at the damage that the cormorants were doing to a harbour in Toronto (which they likened to Mordor from Lord of the Rings), as well as an area in the Thousand Islands that I can't recall at present.

For my part, I'm inclined to think that this is a half baked management strategy that is catering to the worst elements of human psychology.

Author:  frozentripper [ January 7th, 2019, 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

IIRC the largest cormorant colony is at Tommy Thompson Park at the Toronto waterfront. It's a birding hotspot that does attract visitors for the wildlife with not a lot of complaints about damage being done from what I've seen so far. I don't think the birders and naturalists that visit will be too thrilled with seeing birds being shot out.

Author:  Splake [ January 7th, 2019, 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cormorant hunting season

RHaslam wrote:
... 20 years ago, I had never seen a pelican in my neck of the woods. Now there are thousands. ...

As a point of trivia, pelicans have historically been resident in the prairies at points much further north than Geraldton.

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