2008-02-07 / Outdoors

House supports Sheltrown's cormorant control

In a move designed to give Michigan more aggressive control of its double-crested cormorant population, State Rep. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) Jan. 16 announced that the House passed his resolution urging the federal government to remove the voracious bird from the list of protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"In order to protect our vital fisheries, Michigan must have the capacity to deal with problem cormorants," said Sheltrown, a longtime advocate of eliminating outdated federal cormorant protections. "Fishing has an enormous impact on our local economy, and if we continue to lose fish, we will also lose tourists and businesses. The cormorant population in Michigan has expanded significantly, and federal protection is no longer needed."

Once an uncommon species, the birds can now be found throughout the Great Lakes. The doublecrested cormorant's numbers are at historic highs in the Great Lakes region, with an estimated population of over 600,000 birds in 2005. Each adult cormorant can consume 1 to 1.5 pounds of fish per day, including small steelhead, salmon, and walleye.

In addition to the devastating effect that cormorants have on fish populations, manmade structures have also been damaged by cormorants, increasing maintenance costs of both the public and private sectors. The cormorants' acidic droppings have been cited as a significant contributing factor to the deterioration of the paint on the Mackinac Bridge.

"We don't need people in Washington telling us what's best for Michigan," Sheltrown said. "We can't allow cormorants to continue destroying our fisheries and precious natural resources, and I call on the federal government to turn over management of cormorants to our state, so we can deal with them appropriately."

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