Double-crested Cormorants will soon be hunted in Ontario


Some birders were shocked when they heard that Sandhill Cranes would be hunted this year in Alberta. I wasn’t shocked by that because SK and MB have been doing it for 50 years. Although I am against the hunt (mainly because cranes have low birth rates and also are suffering from habitat loss), most hunters at least eat the cranes.

However, Ontario just announced that they are going to allow a Double-crested Cormorant hunt (cull) from Sept 15-Dec 31st. Hunters can kill 15 Cormorants a day and no one eats cormorants. This is being touted as a way to conserve fish but that’s just not going to work for many reasons. First of all these birds mainly eat small shallow-water fish and many of the fish they consume are non-native fish which actually helps out ecosystems. Double-crested Cormorants only eat a very small percentage (<5%) of large commercial-type fish.

The Govt of Ontario is stating that Cormorant colonies can destroy full island ecosystems by stripping trees and producing too much acidic guano. This is true; their guano does destroy habitat and vegetation and the birds do strip branches. However, other management solutions like removing nest trees or adding physical barriers and frightening devices can be looked at. Plus we humans must remember even if it’s not aesthetic this is a natural occurrence as old as time!. Double-crested Cormorants have come back from near extinction in the past. We don’t want to set them back down that trajectory again.

Notable in Oregon when a similar cull happened an entire colony collapsed. See that story HERE

Since Common Loons may look like Cormorants on the water many conservationists are scared that Loons may get killed by accident. Also they are worried about the cruelty maimed birds will endure and rotting corpses left lying around as in past culls. Ontario has not stated what they feel is a healthy and tolerable Cormorant population number, so conservationists fear the killing will continue wantonly.

You can read more about this issue HERE

I hope that there is enough outcry so that this can be stopped. Anyone who thinks Cormorants are ugly and don’t deserve to be saved have never looked at these birds closely. Historically many people have hated Double-crested Cormorants (there is even an old racist term for them “N***** Geese”). Just take a look at one during the breeding season. Look at those aqua-coloured eyes, white ear-tufts and that stunning yellow face and gular!. Truly they are one of the most wonderful birds in North America. 

This cull is another scapegoat, just like people love to blame seals and sea-lions for destroying the fishing industry here and cry out for a cull. The real problem is always us humans, not the animals and when we interfere in nature like this, it always has devastating consequences. The only silver lining in all this doom is that the Gov’t has banned the hunt during the breeding season, which was initially proposed.

Why would anyone want to kill these amazing birds? - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. I hope that the government of Ontario sees the error of their reasoning for culling these wonderful birds. I've always liked cormorants, myself.

    1. me too but i fear it may be too late to save them from this fate.

  2. Thanks for posting this important petition. I’ve signed it!


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