Feds propose new rules for cormorant control

The federal government is often viewed, rightly or wrongly, as having an endless appetite for issuing rules and regulations. Ambitious politicians routinely promise that if we elect them they will put a stop to it, “cut through the red tape,” and perhaps even roll back regulations that are already on the books.

Not everyone is aware that the purpose of regulations is to interpret and provide guidelines for how the laws passed by these same politicians are to be carried out. The absence of regulations could be compared to a chef lacking recipes for the meals he’s expected to create. The chef may know what an entrée is supposed to look and taste like, but without knowing the ingredients—and how and when they should be assembled—the odds of having a great meal are poor. When all is said and done, some regulations are needed to carry out the intent of our laws.

There’s also a common belief that regulations are only about telling us what we can’t do. Don’t pour that used motor oil or paint thinner down your garage drain. Farmer, don’t locate a cattle feed lot where spring flooding can wash fish-killing nutrients into a nearby river. Fishermen, don’t catch and keep more than 10 crappies in a day’s fishing.

Some regulations, however, expand boundaries and make possible things that would otherwise be prohibited. A recent example is an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking”—the first step in proposing new regulations—in this case, for the management of a familiar Minnesota bird, the double-crested cormorant.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is considering whether to give state natural resource agencies more authority to control the population of these waterfowl that prey on small fish, including those prized by anglers, as well as fish raised in commercial aquaculture—fish farming—done primarily in the South. Minnesota’s Leech Lake and Lake of the Woods, to name just two state waters, have seen spikes in the number of double-crested cormorants. Not so long ago, a downturn in walleye numbers on Leech Lake was attributed—at least by some—to a growing population of nesting cormorants there.

Larger than a duck, but somewhat smaller than a common loon, cormorants nest in high-density colonies. Their “guano” is highly acidic, and the concentration found in these colonies can kill ground vegetation, and even the trees in which the birds nest. Cormorants can denude entire small islands, leaving them looking like they were chemically defoliated.

It is a human prejudice to describe a cormorant as unhandsome, but there is something almost vulture-like in their appearance, with large broad wings, a snake-like neck and hooked beak. A duck, goose, swan or loon is graceful by comparison. It may be a further irony that Minnesotans revere the common loon, even though it earns its living chiefly as cormorants do, by eating fish. The loon’s strikingly beautiful plumage, and its distinctive and haunting call, contribute to this prejudice in its favor. This, and the lore and legend that have linked the loon to wilderness.

Cormorants were at a population low point nationally in the 1970s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by the late 1990s, natural resource agencies in more than half the states were reporting declines in popular and valued fish in their waters. Agencies in 10 states were on record as considering the cormorant a major threat to their fisheries management programs.

One of the most important federal conservation laws ever enacted is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, an agreement initially between the U.S. and Great Britain—acting then on behalf of Canada—with Mexico later added to the agreement. This Act “makes it illegal to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter … any migratory bird … except under the terms of a valid federal permit.” The waterfowl hunting license we purchase for the privilege of hunting migratory ducks, geese, woodcock or snipe, is an example of such a “valid federal permit.”

Because cormorants are a migratory bird, they are protected under this Act. But from 2003 to 2016, in light of their depredations on wild fish stocks and fish farms, wildlife agencies in 24 states had broad authority to control cormorant populations that were considered a threat. In thirteen states, fish farmers had the right to control cormorants preying on their fish stocks without the need for individual permits.

This changed in 2016. A federal judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) ruled for plaintiffs who had objected to the “culling”—the killing—of cormorants under these broad permits during the 2003 to 2016 period. The judge found that the governing agency—the USFWS—had not sufficiently made the case for broad authority to kill cormorants, versus permits that would be sought on a case-by-case basis.

Since 2016, those “case-by-case” rules have been in place while the USFWS did its homework, and—it now appears—will try to make a better case to again give state agencies discretion to determine “whether, when, where and for what purpose, to control cormorants.” A similar proposal is being made by USFWS to allow the taking of cormorants without individual permits where they’re found to be causing fish farming losses.

For now, we’re in a 45-day public comment, which began on January 22nd, when this proposal was published. Comments received by USFWS may shape its decision on the degree of freedom the states should have in decisions to control—or not control–their cormorant populations. Also shaping these regulations—we can safely assume—will be a USFWS judgment on whether they would be likely to withstand another challenge in court.

Anglers and fish farmers will be eagerly awaiting the outcome.

Inslee asks Washington wildlife agency to kill fewer wolves, pursue new management methods

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 1, 2019, 9:05 p.m.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee heads out after speaking with reporters, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Seattle. Inslee is seeking changes in how the state deals with problem wolves in Ferry County, in an effort to reduce the number of gray wolves that are being killed. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee heads out after speaking with reporters, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Seattle. Inslee is seeking changes in how the state deals with problem wolves in Ferry County, in an effort to reduce the number of gray wolves that are being killed. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

Kill fewer wolves.

That was the message Gov. Jay Inslee sent to Washington’s wildlife management agency in a letter, Monday.

“We must find new methods to better support co-existence between Washington’s livestock industry and gray wolves in our state,” Inslee said in the letter. “The status quo of annual lethal removal is simply unacceptable.”

Inslee acknowledges that in most cases Washington’s wolves are existing peacefully with livestock and people. According to agency statistics 90% of Washington’s wolves aren’t causing problems. He also praised the state’s Wolf Advisory Group, which has members representing cattle, conservation and business interests.

However, in northeast Washington it’s been a summer of conflict with wolves killing and injuring cattle, prompting the state and, in some case, ranchers to kill wolves, in turn prompting environmental groups to sue the state.

In response to the state-ordered killings, Inslee urged a reexamination of policy and procedure in parts of northeast Washington where WDFW has repeatedly killed wolves charged with attacking cattle.

“For reasons that are not entirely clear, numerous conflicts with livestock producers have occurred in a handful of federal grazing allotments,” the letter states.

He also asked WDFW to work more closely with the U.S. Forest Service to work to reduce such conflicts with wolves, “including changes in allotment policies for public lands that are prime wolf habitat, the addition of more intensive range riding, and other proven or promising methods.”

Inslee requested WDFW respond to his requests by Dec. 1.

WDFW responded to the letter by issuing a statement that said reducing wolf kills “ is a top priority” for the agency and that the repeated depredations in the Kettle Range is “greatly impacting” all involved.

“The forest conditions and livestock operations in this particular landscape make it extremely challenging, and unfortunately, has resulted in repeated lethal removal actions,” WDFW’s statement said. “We all share the perspective that something has to change to reduce the loss of both wolves and livestock in this area. WDFW believes this is consistent with the Governor’s request.”

In an email, WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman said no immediate changes have been made and “there will be discussion in the coming weeks to see what/if anything changes.”

WDFW killed all members of the Old Profanity Territory wolf pack this summer, after repeated cattle attacks on public land. That pack inhabited the geographic area formerly occupied by the Profanity Peak pack until the state killed seven pack members in 2016.

Wolf advocates and others have questioned whether that land, which is particularly thick and steep, is suitable for grazing. A lawsuit filed by three individuals and supported by a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group alleges that the cattle ranchers and the state did not use nonlethal deterrents prior to ordering the killing of the OPT pack.

WDFW has also ordered the killing of wolves in the Togo pack and the Grouse Flats pack, although as of Tuesday the state hadn’t killed any of those wolves.

Inslee’s letter was greeted enthusiastically by Chris Bachman, wildlife program director at the Spokane-based Lands Council.

“It’s been pretty amazing and pretty emotional,” he said. “I think that’s a huge success for conservation and for the wolf.”

Bachman has written Inslee a number of letters questioning whether non-lethal deterrents were being used and if the thick, steep terrain is a suitable place to graze cattle.

Inslee’s letter, Bachman said, gives his group and others “leverage” to push change in WDFW policy and procedure.

Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest, also supported the letter and its message.

“Our core position is that the collaborative process and nonlethal deterrents are the answers,” he said. “As long as the governor and other political, elected officials are making statements in line with that, I’m happy.”

More money is already being funneled into nonlethal measures this year after passage of a new law that directs the state to spend nearly $1 million over the next two years on nonlethal deterrents in northeastern Washington.

The letter comes after several out-of-state groups have publicly campaigned Inslee and the state to change how it manages wolves.

The Center for a Humane Economy, an animal-welfare group based in Washington D.C., ran a full-page ad in the Seattle Times July 21 protesting the state’s handling of wolf-cattle conflicts.

Some in northeast Washington view suchoutside pressure as out-of-touch and provocative.

“I think it’s people from hundreds of miles away throwing hand grenades,” Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, told the Northwest Sportsman in response to Inslee’s letter.

Kretz did not respond to a call seeking further comment Tuesday.

Stevens County commissioner Don Dashiell said he sees the governor’s letter as a political move.

“He’s just gotten enough pressure from wolf advocates to think he has to say something about it,” he said.

Dashiell doesn’t expect it to change much.

“It wasn’t like the department was running around killing wolves all over the place,” he said “So how can we tell the difference?”

Friedman with Conservation Northwest acknowledged that some stakeholders may see Inslee’s letter as overreach but said hehopes it doesn’t cause critics to “disengage” from the Wolf Advisory Group’s collaborative process.

“It might bruise feelings for a bit, but it’s truthful,” Friedman said. “I think we’re all adults and we’ll play our roles, and hopefully we find solutions together to face the challenge and come through it.”

Fraser, Pitt river seal hunt proposed in Lower Mainland

First Nations say fishing affected, DFO reviewing

There is a growing call for First Nations communities to be able to harvest seals and sea lions along the Fraser and Pitt Rivers for profit.

Thomas Sewid, with the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society, believes that a pinniped harvest is needed in order to save salmon stocks that are being depleted by the animals. Seals, sea lions and walruses, with flippers, are considered pinnipeds.

“Since the 1980s, the seal and sea lion population in British Columbia have exploded,” said Sewid.

“They are just decimating our salmon stocks. And then you factor in the low returns we’re getting this year,” said Sewid, adding that it’s a disaster.

RELATED: Scientists warn of ecosystem consequences for proposed B.C. seal hunt

He would like to see Fisheries and Oceans Canada allow First Nations communities to harvest and sell seal and sea lion products, “to help protect their salmon, sturgeon, trout, steelhead and everything else they are decimating.”

Sewid said that while under the First Nations food, social, ceremonial fishery, many communities have the right to harvest seals and sea lions, they are not allowed to sell the meat, barter it or trade with it.

“What we need is to get licensed,” said Sewid.

Once licensed, Sewid wants to see bands get authorization to close down parts of the river to the public for a certain period to allow hunters in high-visibility vests to remove the seals, although the method by which the seals would be killed hasn’t been confirmed.

“We want people with high-vis vests and radios and cellphone communication to cordon off the area, because First Nations are going to go in and remove the seals and sea lions,” said Sewid.

On Wednesday, hereditary Chief Roy Jones Jr. from the Haida First Nation approached the DFO to demand that they be allowed to sell seal products.

Sewid says there is plenty of interest from industries for seal or sea lion meat, oil, blubber and fur. The oil, he says, can be used in the pharmaceutical industry for lotions and pills for the high Omega 3 content, furs can be used for art and tourism industries, the meat can be used in the pet food industry and, he believes the high-end restaurant market would be interested in the meat as well.

He says it will be a sustainable and viable industry for communities lining the rivers.

Katzie Chief Grace Cunningham says there is an issue with seals impacting the harvest.

“I believe the largest population of seals are obviously in the ocean but when they are in our river they certainly affect our fishing endeavours,” she said.

She says the band has noticed it more in years like this year because of the depleted salmon run.

“We’re not able to get out as often as we would like or need to harvest our own and our fishers have to battle the seals to salvage their catch. The seals literally pull fish out of our nets, half eaten and or simply ruin the flesh,” she continued.

Katzie fisheries manager and councillor Rick Bailey said the issue is how to harvest the animals safely.

“Back in my grandfather’s day they used to just go out with a .22 and shoot them because there was nobody around. They used to get $5 per nose and they would just turn it into the Department of Fisheries in New Westminster and they would pay them in cash and they would go and buy groceries,” he said.

Now, added Bailey, there is too much activity on the river so that shooting the animals is not an option.

He has been trying to design a harpoon that can be safely used like a crossbow.

“Something to do it in a safe and humane way,” he said.

RELATED: Seal attacks kayakers off northern Vancouver Island

Bailey agrees with Sewid that the seal population has exploded.

“When we’re out fishing, we run our boats slow now because of the cost of fuel. You look out the window and the seals are swimming right beside you. Then as soon as you throw your net out they are just patrolling back and forth along the net picking out anything that they can get,” he said.

He compares the situation to a habituated bear. They are not feeding them but whenever they go fishing the seals and sea lions are out there robbing their nets.

Leri Davies with Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed that the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society submitted a proposal to commercially hunt pinnipeds under the New and Emerging Fisheries Policy.

Davies said the DFO takes an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries and oceans management to ensure that the best science is reflected, in consideration of the role seals play in a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Seals and sea lions are an important food source for transient killer whales, also known as Biggs killer whales, Davies said by e-mail. This population of killer whale has been listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act since 2003, she said.

She did say the DFO is reviewing the Pinniped Society’s proposal that has already resulted in several rounds of feedback. And consultations with academic experts in Canada and the U.S. will be ongoing.

Danny Gerak who runs the Pitt River Lodge, says seals are not the problem for declining salmon populations.

“They have been feeding on the salmon for thousands of years. Before we got here and there were lots of salmon,” said Gerak by email from the lodge.

He says the problem is people who are destroying salmon habitat, over fishing, polluting the rivers and streams, killing the spawning grounds with jet boats, allowing disease from fish farms and sea lice and allowing the Japanese and other countries to fish B.C. sockeye on the high seas.

“They’re the least of our problem,” he said.

Sewid says if the government doesn’t back a seal or sea lion harvest they are going to announce a First Nations cull on the entire coast.

“To hell with government. We’ll let them drag us off to court and we’ll prove, like we always do in Supreme Court that we win the dice roll with a 96 per cent success ratio,” he said.

2 bears euthanized in Yellowstone National Park, search for third underway

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Two black bears have been killed in Yellowstone National Park this year and officials are looking for third habituated black bear – all three bears reportedly showed no fear around people after acquiring human food and becoming food-conditioned.

According to park officials, last month, a  black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman’s thigh (the bite did not break the skin due to the tent fabric and thick sleeping bag)

That incident occurred at a backcountry campsite along Little Cottonwood Creek

Black bear sniffing dumpster near Ice Box Canyon; Jim Peaco; June 14, 2015; Catalog #20152d; Original #IMG_3675

Rangers suspect that this might have been a bear that gained access to human food in this same area in previous years. Over subsequent days, rangers set up cameras and a decoy tent at the campsite to determine if the bear would continue this behavior. With rangers present, the bear returned and aggressively tore up the decoy tent. The bear was killed on-site on June 11.

In early July, at a backcountry campsite along the Lamar River Trail, campers left food unattended while packing up gear allowing a black bear to eat approximately 10 pounds of human food. Campers who visited the same campsite the following evening had numerous encounters with the same bear. Their attempts to haze the bear away failed. Rangers relocated multiple campers from the area and the bear was killed on July 10. The incident is still under investigation.

Since July 18, at the front country Indian Creek Campground, a black bear has caused property damage to tents and vehicles in its search for human food. Park staff actively hazed the bear from the campground, but also set up cameras. If the bear returns, managers will take appropriate actions based on the current circumstances, including additional hazing or removal.

Park staff have had a busy summer responding to bears in campgrounds, backcountry campsites, and along roadsides. Visitors are reminded to stay at least 100 yards away from bears at all times and to store food and scented items properly.

Once a bear acquires human food, it loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. This process is called “habituation.” The park has killed two habituated black bears this year and is trying to capture a third. All three bears exhibited bold behaviors, showed no fear around people, and have demonstrated food-conditioned behavior.

Park officials say these incidents serve as unfortunate reminders that human carelessness doesn’t just endanger people; it can also result in a bear’s death. Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. Learn more about what you can do at go.nps.gov/yellbearsafety [go.nps.gov].

According to officials, Yellowstone National Park does not typically relocate bears for three reasons: 1) there are no areas in the park to move the bear where it wouldn’t have the continued opportunity to potentially injure someone and damage property, 2) surrounding states do not want food-conditioned bears relocated into their jurisdictions, and 3) adult bears have large home ranges, good memories, and could easily return to the original area.

It is common for visitors to observe black bears in Yellowstone. About 50 percent are black in color, others are brown, blond, or cinnamon. Learn more about black bears [nps.gov].

FWP kills mountain lion found near Helena’s Centennial Park


MTN News File Photo

HELENA – A mountain lion found in Helena city limits has been killed and removed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The Helena Police Department reported the mountain lion was spotted at NorthWestern Energy property on the 1300 block of Last Chance Gulch around 7:30 a.m.

An employee saw the cat in the bushes near a building entrance.

Interim Police Chief Steve Hagen stated in a news release that “immobilizing and relocating mountain lions located in urban areas is not a safe/feasible option so lethal means are used.”

The HPD, animal control officers, and FWP all responded.

-Reported by Jacob Fuhrer/MTN News

Cormorant Hunt Is the Single Worst Wild Game Management Decision in Canadian History

 from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Barry Kent MacKay, BornFreeUSA.org
December 2018

This move is a response to lobbying by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), who must now abandon any pretense that hunting isn’t cruel and wasteful.

Cormorants
Pair of cormorants in flight. Drawing by Barry Kent MacKay / Born Free USA. See more of Barry’s art – Art by Barry Kent MacKay.

To oppose this monstrous legislation, GO HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.
Deadline for comment is January 3, 2019.

Ontario’s newly elected premier, Doug Ford, in many ways as Trumpian as the Donald himself, has just proposed what is, I believe, the worst single wild game management decision in Canadian history. Did I say “game”? “Gamey” barely describes the essentially inedible double-crested cormorant, a species that was twice nearly wiped out in Ontario, and is not “game” by any traditional definition. And yet, so it is to be called, except that for the first time since game laws came into being, it will be legal to leave the carcasses of birds who have been shot as “game” to rot. The bag limit is 50 per day with no limit to possession. The season will be from March 15, the start of the cornmorant nesting season, to December 31, when all but a few stragglers have migrated south.

Ford’s government is a majority (which is like having control of both the House and Senate in U.S. politics), so there can be no effective opposition, and Ford’s term is four years. I doubt he’ll be re-elected, but it will take further years to undo damage he’s doing in this and other similarly Draconian legislation. I hate to think what’s to come.

This move is a response to lobbying by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), who must now abandon any pretense that hunting isn’t cruel and wasteful. “Hunting” has to be redefined, literally, with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act being amended so hunters can allow the meat of “game” to spoil. The birds are easily shot and highly vulnerable. There is no “fair chase” or “sustainable use” involved.

Cormorant chicks
Born unfeathered, so ugly only a mother can love them, which she, and dad, do, protecting them from the elements. Drawing by Barry Kent MacKay / Born Free USA. See more of Barry’s art – Art by Barry Kent MacKay.

Cormorants nest in colonies of mixed bird species. Both parents need to tend the young, born naked. Would it not be deemed cruel to put a baby bird in the oven, turn the temperature to 90 or more Fahrenheit and leave it to die? That degree of abuse will be the fate of who knows how many hundreds, or thousands of baby cormorants, whose parents tend them with such great care – feeding them, shading them, warming them, and even bringing them water to cool them in the heat of the day.
Ford (brother to Toronto’s late crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford) is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and probably bought into the much-debunked belief that fish consumed by cormorants would otherwise be available to commercial and sport fishing interests. A search of peer-reviewed scientific literature by ornithologists showed otherwise, but facts don’t matter to authoritarian right-wingers. Natural predation is usually “compensatory,” taking individual prey that would otherwise not survive, and only under exceptional circumstances is predation “additive,” meaning that it is above the number needed for the prey species numbers to continue. If this were not the case, all predators would wipe out their prey and go extinct. As The Department of Natural Resources for Minnesota puts it, compensatory mortality “…is common in all animal populations and this type of mortality [by cormorants] does not decrease fish populations.”

This is all too technical for Ford and OFAH, but even if they did understand such basic ecology, I doubt they would care. Numbers of hunters are in freefall decline, if “hunting” is defined in terms of science-based regulation, “fair chase” and utilization. The term has shifted to simply mean killing. The fact that cormorant guano, rich in nutriments, can kill off trees, plus the absurd belief that fish eaten by cormorants would otherwise wind up on hooks, in nets and creels, or glued to wooden plaques hung on walls, is all the excuses needed. With slob hunters now legitimized by Mr. Ford, watch, too, for killing of loons and other birds that dare to eat fish and are easily mistaken for cormorants.

To oppose this monstrous legislation, GO HERE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.
Deadline for comment is January 3, 2019.

Double-crested Cormorant Slaughter

double-crested cormorant

For more than 10 years, Animal Alliance of Canada, Born Free FoundationZoocheckEarthroots and other groups have been working to gain protections for cormorants. These unfortunate birds have been scapegoated for everything from water pollution to environmental destruction to the decimation of fish populations. All of these claims are false.

Double-crested cormorants are native Ontario birds that have repopulated parts of their former range and they fulfill a valuable ecological role. Not only do they benefit biodiversity, they help generate healthy fish populations and should be considered a integral component of Ontario’s natural heritage.

Now, Premier Ford and his government are proposing one of the most regressive wildlife “management” decisions in Canadian history.  The proposed changes are rooted in an irrational hatred for cormorants that will fuel their persecution and drive them back to the brink of extinction, or worse, in the province.

A recent Environmental Registry of Ontario posting (https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124) announced that the Government is seeking input on a proposed change to the province’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that will:

  • designate double-crested cormorants as a “game” bird species,
  • create a province wide annual hunting season from March 15 until December 31,
  • allow anyone holding a valid Ontario Outdoors Card and small game hunting license to kill up to 50 cormorants per day (1,500 per month or more than 14,000 per season) and,
  • allow the carcasses to spoil (i.e., rot).

The Government’s proposal would:

  • cause unimaginable cruelty by allowing the wholesale, uncontrolled, impossible to monitor, slaughter of cormorants across the province,
  • devastate and possibly eradicate a recovered native wildlife species,
  • result in disturbance, destruction and death of numerous federally protected non-target bird species such as Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and White Pelicans,
  • irreparably damage natural ecosystems,
  • encourage the worst form of “slob hunting,” and
  • endanger the public by allowing hunters to discharge firearms throughout the spring, summer and fall season when lakes and natural areas are populated by cottagers and tourists.

Why?

The Government of Ontario says it is responding to concerns about too many cormorants, depleted fish stocks and environmental damage. But those concerns are largely just anecdotes, complaints from a small, radical segment of the fishing community, and unsubstantiated claims that were debunked long ago. There is no substantive body of evidence proving that cormorants are depleting fish stocks or causing any ecological problems whatsoever.

The reality is that cormorants are a natural part of Ontario’s rich biodiversity and an ecologically beneficial species, being major predators of invasive fish species, like round gobies and alewives, attracting other waterbirds to their nesting sites, and serving other important functions in the ecosystems they inhabit.

A Recovered Species

Persecution by humans and pesticide poisoning all but wiped out cormorants in Ontario on two previous occasions but, in recent years, they have returned and populated those habitats that will support them.  They are a recovery success.

Far from being overabundant, cormorant numbers are relatively modest, have stabilized and are dropping in some areas. The entire North American double-crested cormorant population is estimated to be less than the population of Toronto, with about 250,000 in the entire Great Lakes Basin and considerably less residing in Ontario.

At Risk of Extinction

Because they are conspicuous birds that congregate in colonies to nest on exposed islands and peninsulas (only about 3% of potential island sites in the Great Lakes are suitable), they are particularly vulnerable, being easily targeted and killed. Small congregations could be wiped out in just a few minutes or an hour, while larger colonies could be destroyed in just a few days or a week.  Years of effort and thousands of dollars to recover the species will have been for nothing.

Radical cormorant-haters have already attacked colonies under cover of night, destroying nests, stomping on chicks and killing adults. Once the proposed changes to the law come into effect, people will be given free rein to destroy as many cormorants as they want. It wouldn’t take many people very long to wipe out most cormorants in the province, leaving just a tiny remnant of their population in a few protected areas. And driving them back to near extinction or even worse in Ontario is a real possibility.

How You Can Help:  Oppose This Plan!

  1. Comment on the Environmental Registry posting.  There’s a 45 day comment period which ends on January 3rd , so please visit https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124 to submit your comments.  It’s critically important that the posting receive as many comments as possible.  You can say as much or as little as you want (even a single sentence will be helpful).  If you want to send comments by mail, see address below this alert.
  2. Call or Write to the Premier. Let Premier Doug Ford know what you think of the plan to allow the mass killing of cormorants in Ontario.   See Premier’s contact information below this alert.  A quick phone call or a brief email are the most effective.
  3. Contact your Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). It doesn’t matter what party they represent or what their views (pro or con) are.  Let them know what an unnecessary, outdated, environmentally damaging, wasteful and cruel idea this is.   Ask what they’re going to do about it.  Find your Ontario MPP using your postal code at elections.on.ca
  4. Spread the word.  Tell everyone you know who loves birds, wildlife and nature about what’s going on.  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or, if you can, an Opinion Editorial or article.  Make sure you mention your MPP and what they are doing, or not doing, to protect cormorants and other wildlife in your letter.
  5. Donate.  Opposing this Draconian, destructive and completely unnecessary plan to allow the unfettered killing of cormorants won’t be easy or cheap.  That’s why we’re asking you to make a contribution of whatever you can afford in support of our efforts to protect cormorants.  Donate to Zoocheck at www.zoocheck.com/donate/ or donate to Animal Alliance of Canada at www.animalalliance.ca/donate

Environmental Registry of Ontario

Proposal to establish a hunting season for
double-crested cormorants in Ontario

*45 day comment period ends January 3, 2019*

Submit comments by mail to:

Public Input Coordinator
Species Conservation Policy Branch
300 Water Street, Floor 5N
Peterborough, ON   K9J 8M5

Submit comments online:    https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4124


Premier Doug Ford Contact Information

Website Feedback Form:  https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx

Mailing Address:  Premier of Ontario, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M7A 1A1

Phone:  416-325-1941  /    TTY/Teletypewriter: (for hearing impaired):  1-800-387-5559


Find Your Own Member of Provincial Parliament by using your postal code

www.elections.on.ca

(If you are not computer accessible, please call Animal Alliance at 416-462-9541.)


Additional Information

Animal Alliance of Canada (416) 462-9541

Zoocheck (416) 285-1744

Fighting for cormorants:  Talking and Letter Writing Points

  1. The Ontario government’s proposal will allow individuals with a small game license to kill up to 50 cormorants per day. That works out to approximately 1,500 cormorants per month or up to 14,250 cormorants for the entire proposed annual hunting season.
  2. The presence of cormorants benefits other colonial water birds, such as federally protected herons, egrets and pelicans, all of which are stable or growing populations where cormorants are found.
  3. The mass killing of cormorants will not be beneficial. In fact, the process of killing them will force other bird species to vacate the colony sites they share.
  4. There is no way to kill cormorants humanely. Even controlled, organized culls in other regions have resulted in large numbers of injured and crippled birds being left to die of their wounds or starve to death, including nestlings.
  5. Cormorants are beneficial because their diet consists of very large numbers of primarily invasive fish, such as alewives and round gobies, as well as other non-commercial, non-forage species.  It is the commercial fisheries in Lake Erie and other lakes that are depleting fish populations, not cormorants.
  6. The mass killing of cormorants will damage the environment and disrupt natural ecosystem processes.
  7. The return of cormorants, a native wildlife species, to the Great Lakes Basin is part of a natural process and should be celebrated
  8. Cormorants are not overabundant in the Great Lakes. In fact, their numbers are modest, now stabilized and are dropping in many areas.
  9. Changes in the composition of vegetation in and around bird colonies are a sign of  vibrant, healthy, dynamic natural ecosystem processes.
  10. The number of trees that die in colonial waterbird colonies across the province is minuscule and wouldn’t even equal the number of trees in a single modestly-sized woodlot or taken in one day by Ontario’s logging industry.
  11. Only a small number of islands (less than 3%) and peninsula sites are available for cormorants and other colonial waterbirds to nest on.
  12. The mass killing being proposed by the Ontario government is a political response to anecdotes, unsubstantiated claims and complaints by a small group of radical fishermen, supported by special interest groups. There is no substantive body of scientific evidence supporting their position.
  13. Instead of making cormorants a scapegoat for environmental problems they have nothing to do with, attention should be given to addressing the issues that actually do affect fish populations and aquatic environments, such as climate change, pollution, shoreline and habitat destruction, over-fishing and a broad range of other issues.
  14. The proposed designation of cormorants as game animals, along with a non-utilization exemption that allows the carcasses to rot should be an affront to every hunter who believes in sportsmanship, fair chase and ethics.
  15. There are very real safety issues where hunters are permitted to discharge firearms throughout the spring, summer and fall season when lakes and natural areas are populated by cottagers and tourists.
  16. The proposed “hunt” will cause unimaginable cruelty by allowing the wholesale, uncontrolled slaughter of cormorants across the province, wounding adults (video of cormorant with a broken bill:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0pBs6XjtSg&list=PL1asTRKubtRuAy7LWUpMFubz97ydJTEhM&index=3) and orphaning thousands of baby birds who will die from starvation and exposure to the elements.

READ MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OUR FIGHT TO PROTECT THIS NATIVE BIRD

Licence to kill: Animal lovers fuming over hunting permits for Cape baboons

09 July 2018 – 15:39BY CLAIRE KEETON
The killing of baboons has sparked growing outrage among residents in Cape Town.

The killing of baboons has sparked growing outrage among residents in Cape Town. 
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Taryn Carr

Animal lovers and rights activists are up in arms over hunting permits granting permission to shoot two baboons a day.

The permits were issued to two wine farms in Constantia in Cape Town in October 2017.

The killing of baboons – seven of them to date – has sparked growing outrage among residents in Cape Town after it was revealed by the local Constantiaberg Bulletin newspaper.

The Bulletin reported that baboons were being shot at their sleeping sites and that some had been forced to flee into residential areas‚ where they were injured‚ shot or attacked by dogs.

Distressed Capetonians have started an online petition‚ circulated on Facebook‚ to “demand the end of the horrific baboon cull in Cape Town”.

Asked about the licences to kill baboons‚ which are valid until October‚ Cape Nature Conservation communications manager Marietjie Engelbrecht said on Monday: “A condition of the permit is that each hunt is reported and registered within 24 hours in order to monitor numbers. Daily hunts are not a practical occurrence.”

Engelbrecht said they approved the hunting permits “as a last resort to mitigate human-wildlife conflict”.

“The applicants were able to prove that they have implemented multiple non-lethal mitigation measures over a number of years to try to prevent the continued damage to vineyards and infrastructure without success‚ and have experienced extensive losses‚” she said.

However‚ the secrecy around the permits was on Monday called into question by Jenni Trethowan‚ founder of the Baboon Matters Trust.

Trethowan said the Baboon Technical Team‚ which oversees baboon management on the Cape Peninsula‚ should have gone public about the shooting of baboons if all the justifications were there.

“I’m appalled at the lack of transparency‚” she said. “We heard a lot of chatter on social groups about baboons being killed but this was the first time it has been confirmed.

“Cape Nature Conservation‚ which issued the permits‚ is on the team – as well as the city of Cape Town‚ conservation authorities and researchers. They must have known about it‚” said Trethowan.

According to Engelbrecht‚ “All members of the team were present [when they discussed permits]. I can’t tell you why the information didn’t filter down.”

Buitenverwachting owner Lars Maack told the Bulletin he had applied for a hunting licence as a last resort when electric fences and paintball guns failed to keep the baboons away from their crops and dogs‚ and staff felt threatened.

Klein Constantia vineyard manager Craig Harris told the paper that they had tried monitors with paintball guns and a “virtual fence” experiment‚ which had failed to keep the baboons away.

Hout Bay resident Patrick Semple said: “I don’t understand how wealthy farmers next to a national park can justify killing animals from the national park because they are coming over to eat grapes. Surely they can make another plan?”

Birth control for Tokai baboons could be a non-lethal way to manage the growing numbers in Tokai troops‚ suggested scientist Esme Beamish from UCT’s Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa.

Beamish‚ who studies population dynamics on the peninsula‚ said the Tokai troops had shown the strongest growth of all managed troops‚ with their numbers increasing from 115 in one troop in 2006 to over 250 in four troops in 2017.

“The growth in the Tokai troops is a concern to baboon management. For this reason they would be the first candidates for a reproductive control programme‚” said Beamish.

“The fire and removal of pines from the area was good for baboon welfare and conservation in that it reduced some of the artificial sleeping sites and human-derived food resources [pine nuts].”

Beamish said removing specific raiding baboons‚ as practised by the City of Cape Town‚ could be more beneficial than culling baboons in general.

The broader issue of human-wildlife conflict had been triggered by baboons being “isolated to diminishing areas of natural vegetation as a result of urban-agricultural development‚” she said.

“The City of Cape Town’s baboon management programme has successfully reduced baboon-human conflict in residential areas by keeping baboons out of ‘town’ and in the natural vegetation 98% of the time.

“This is measured by reduced injury or death to baboons as a result of attacks by humans‚” said Beamish‚ adding that the programme did not extend to agricultural land‚ which fell under Cape Nature.

Local animal rights group launches online petition to end lethal deer cull program

https://www.michigandaily.com/section/ann-arbor/anti-deer-cull-group-launches-online-petition
“A local animal rights group launched a change.org petition yesterday
protesting the Ann Arbor City Council’s decision to continue Ann
Arbor’s lethal deer management program. The petition reached 360
supporters as of Sunday evening.
“The petition, which was started by the Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife
and Nature, argues City Council mismanaged municipal funds to support
a program that, in FAAWN’s perspective, was unnecessarily cruel and
had limited success in controlling Ann Arbor’s deer population.
““Ann Arbor residents want to know that their tax dollars are being
put towards programs that have their best interests at heart,” the
petition reads. “For this reason, we are petitioning the City of Ann
Arbor to stop the killing of 350 deer this Winter and look to
non-lethal options to manage the deer population.””

Michigan House approves crane hunting resolution to address overpopulation

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan-house-approves-crane-hunting-resolution-to-address-overpopulation

[No, the articles’ title doesn’t mean they think enough hunters will shoot themselves or each other in accidents during their newly proposed crane hunt that it will impact the out of control human population in the slightest bit. Unfortunately they meant that hunting canes them might keep their numbers down where humans want them.]

Michigan Rep. Jim Lower calls for Sandhill crane hunting

DETROIT – Michigan Rep. Jim Lower, of Cedar Lake, praised his colleagues in the Michigan House of Representatives for approving his resolution calling for a hunting season to address Sandhill crane overpopulation.

House Resolution 154 encouraged the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill cranes to the game species list and sought approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a hunting season in Michigan.

“I’m hopeful that the Natural Resources Commission will move forward with the idea and create a Sandhill crane hunt,” Lower said. “The establishment of a hunting season will help control the population and limit damage to local farms, where corn and wheat plants serve as a food source for the birds.”

Michigan is home to an increasing population of Sandhill cranes, with an estimated 23,082 reported in Michigan’s 2015 population survey, officials said.

Over the past 10 years, the population has grown an average of 9.4 percent annually, officials said.

While Michigan farmers are allowed to obtain nuisance permits to kill Sandhill cranes causing crop damage on their farms, Lower said the permits do not provide a solution to the overpopulation problem.

Lower said birds killed with nuisance permits are a wasted resource, as their meat cannot be harvested.

Sixteen states currently allow Sandhill crane hunting during certain seasons.

“A number of states already hunt Sandhill cranes, and their population continues to climb, along with reports of crop damage caused by cranes,” Lower said. “Still, hunting is the best tool we have to manage the population as a whole, and it’s time to utilize it in Michigan.”