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Big Julie

Cormorants and Pelicans

45 posts in this topic

I thought I'd start a post to see if there was enough interest to push the issue a little bit.

The question is: How many of you folks around the state are seeing a problem with these fish depleting birds?

It seems that these birds started coming over to Mn. from the Dakotas around 15 years ago with their drought, and found a smorgasboard with our fish.

With the situation up in Leech Lake making a precedent to reduce the numbers of these birds, are there other areas of the state where fish resources may be also suffering because of these birds decimating the fish population?

If it was a problem in enough areas, I would like to see the fishermen of the state get together to pressure our national legislators to further reduce protection of these birds.

???

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I am all for controlling these buggers. Michigan has implemented such control programs to help preserve the Great Lakes. Not only do they eat the heck out of fish, but I have also noticed another one of their functions. On Waconia they nest and roost in the trees on coney island. The trees that they hang out in are so covered in Cormorant chit, that they have killed those mature shoreline trees. They are just noxious animals.

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Thanks for the info.

I heard from our local C.O. (a real gent; Mike Sheldon) that Rep. Collin Peterson (7th district) is really going to bat for sportsmen at the national level in getting protection of these birds less restrictive.

Link to his web page: http://wwwa.house.gov/collinpeterson/email.html

If anyone knows him, send a thank you.

It would be interesting to know more areas of the nation that are working to eradicate these predators.

Keep it up.

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Flying rats.

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I love the outdoors and fishing. However, I am not a big proponant of man interjecting his will on the balance of nature and the creatures of the world. Man kind is already like a cancer spreading across mother earth destroying land with parking lots, roads, and homes. Depleting the earth of its every resource. Hows about we all focus on how we each can protect the fishing resource by exercising catch and release or putting more money in to DNR resources to manage.

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Quote:

...or putting more money in to DNR resources to manage.


Not to nit-pick, but isn't DNR management

Quote:

man interjecting his will on the balance of nature and the creatures of the world.


?

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Mr. Pike, Somehow, we've already changed things and its time to change them back. 20 years ago there was about one fourth of the pelicans and cormerants that there are now. Some southern fish farmers claim they are losing a thousand dollars a day when the cormerants move onto their ponds, and the government won't let them do a thing about it. Noisemakers and other deterants work for about half a day and then they're back. I've heard of a few cases of people shooting large bunches of both. I disaprove of breaking the law, but I can see where their frustration comes from. One of my fondest fishing memories was watching five pelicans gang up on a cormerant and beat the boogers out of him.

It was stated earlier that these birds have moved into Minnesota from the Dakotas. My family lives out there and they have the problem worse than we do. You give a predator protection and lots to eat and you just get more predators.

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This is a great topic to bring up to the DNR and have them study a bit on your lake you feel is being impacted with the cormorants.

As you can see it took years for them to finally deal with the Leech Lake population. I wouldn't expect them to bend an ear right away, but the more complaints or comments they receive on the issue will help.

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Don't forget about Canadien Geese, either. They can be bad news if they find a lake that is inside city limits or highly developed.

All those goose droppings cannot be good for a lake, nor their kicking out other waterfowl, nor their appetites for almost any type of vegetation on the shore or in less than 3 feet of water.

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Icehousebob, some of my foundest memories were on lakes before man destroyed the fishing population by over building on the lakes, introducing chemicals that destroy fish, increase algea, and negatively impact the lake as a whole. Man also raped the fishing natural resourse by over harvest. Many lakes can no longer naturally support a healthy fish population and must be stocked to meet the needs of man.

Concerning Leach lake this is all driven by the desire to profit on the lakes natural fish resource. The all mighty dollar is driving this decision. If something like these birds is going to interfer with profit while then I guess the best solution is to simply destroy that population.

I know my opionion will be in the minority but I am simply oppossed as no study supports that these birds have anywhere near the impact that overharvest on the part of anglers does for any body of water. If you find a study that does support this I would trace the "money" behind the study. I would guess the people funding the study to have a true interest in profit and not the health of the fishery in question.

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Mr. Pike.... confused.gif

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So in a sense what your saying cant be fixed. The only way to do it will be to kill of the human race if we make that much of impact and ruin nature. lol I know, a little drastic there but otherwise things have to change to deal with us. Nothing will be like it was 200 hundred years ago let alone 30-40 years ago know.

I guess another way to look at it is cormorants are protected b/c it was our choice. So because of that choice the population hasn't been kept in check and they have took advantage of that. So now we need to bring it back down to a "normal" level. What that level is, I don't know. But I do know that their $hit is killing lots of trees around what once was beautiful islands and they are hungry little buggers!

I guess its survival of the fittest. They are fit to pi$$ us fisherman off and survival will be slim. grin.gif lol

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Pike, I respect your views of the destruction we force on this planet, however, after looking at this cormorant control plan at Leech Lake, it seems that the Government has some experience with these methods they intend to employ. On the DNR web-site, they explain that the cormorant population has exploded in the last few years, to levels that they probably were before this country was overrun with European settlers (us). We owe it to them, and other species to have some control in their numbers so that there is a balance, be it natural or man-made. Sure, alot of what happens is money driven, but what isn't. Things change, we have to accept change and adapt, that is a natural reaction.

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Wolf, very well stated post. I have not honestly researched the subject enough to know all the facts. The point of my post I guess was to stir the pot a bit and get everyone to think of all possible options before we over react.

Outdoors and fishing is my passion. Unfortunaltly fishing has now become a multi-billion business and to many decisions are made in the interest of those companies/business with financial gain being the driving force.

I am never againts doing the right thing. Lets always just make sure we do the right thing for the right reasons...

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I hear you Mr. Pike1.

We make county ditchs that gives run off a strait shot into our lake silting them in and clouding there water. Lower the water level because of the lake cabins septic tanks. Then we complain that birds eat fish.

Is fishing that bad for you people that you need to take fish out of the mouths of bird.

I'm sure these bird were here before the 1800's.

The problem here seems to be an over abundance of prey. Some one hasn't been doing there job.

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Quote:

Is fishing that bad for you people that you need to take fish out of the mouths of bird.


Hey now, I am feeding the pelicans and I am one of those lousy, no good, cabin owners that is ruining it for everyone. One evening my wife and I were watching a pair of pelicans trolling the shore line. Cruising in and out around the docks. When they came around my dock they both started flapping their wings and raced straight towards my Frabil floating minnow bucket. The first one there poked his bill in the hinged lid and sucked every last minnow out of my bucket. When they were done they continued down the shoreline looking for more "free lunches". If every cabin owner would buy a new Frabil, fill it with minnows and tie it to his dock we could eliminate the problem with our pelicans. Now the cormorant, that is a whole different problem. A true experience that I thought I'd share in attempt to lighten up an otherwise serious thread.

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In this day and age, with the competition for the resources as it is, whether you are talking ducks, pheasants, or fish, if there are measures we can take that do not harm the ecosystem, I believe managing that aspect can be condoned.

I do not believe that taking some of these birds out of the system is harmful. The numbers are currently way out of balance in some areas. If looked at years from now, I believe that is will show to be a good decision.

Skunks and other nest robbers have been shown to reduce duck and pheasant numbers and they are controlled for that reason.

Now, maybe there needs to be more evidence as to the amount that the cormorants and pelicans are devastating some lakes. But anyone who has witnessed these birds feed cannot deny that thru a season they must take a huge amount of fish. An unacceptable amount.

I live on a 100 acre lake that has around 70 cormorants and a similar number of pelicans. It hurts to see the swarms of birds swimming around the lake 24-7 with unending appetites.

Muddog;

To follow your reasoning, then wolves were here first and if they are taking farm animals or household pets, then suck it up?

An overabundance of fish... that was a joke?

Take fish out of the mouths of a poor little bird...???

Sounds like peta to me.

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You do have to remember that you can not have an over population of birds with out and food source to keep it there. This would mean that there is an over population of the food source. You can not see the fish but you can see the birds.

The main predator of these fish are missing and by the looks of it, man is not doing a good job keeping this population in check. If it is over stocking, poor fishing skills or just bad management I can't tell you. The one thing I can tell you is somthing is whack and the bird are just a visual clue.

Make it legal. I'll kill the dam things. Then we can all sit back once again look out over the lake and see nothing but water and boats.

mono-culture = bliss

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You also have to realize that populations that get out of control are often because of humans. Meaning that if it weren't for our habitat management or lack there of, and our fish population management or lack there of, the cormarant population probbaly wouldn't be out of control, so why can't we try to fix the problem we created by killing some of these birds? It's the same scenario as coyotes. The weren't nearly as populated and widespread before us, but now they are. So why not try and control the problems we created?

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Actually, I would guess that the real problem is lack of a main predator for the cormorants. They will keep eating and breeding until the food supply collapses. Because nothing is killing and eating them. Maybe we don't want to eat them, but we can at least kill them.

Or transplant a bunch of nest robbing racoons to their nesting areas. grin.gif

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Muddog It seems you have not seen the damage that these birds can do to a single lake. Long lake north of willmar once was a super walleye lake. dnr stocking and bubblers inthe winter to reduce winter kill. really worked.

You could fish that lake and in 4-6hrs. You could catch a

nice bunch of fish walleyes 15-19inches, sunfish to 3/4lb.

After the cormorants started roosting on the island. That his all changed. I would hunt divers from the island in the fall. The trees on the island are now dead. I would watch these birds work in wave after wave chase and dive for fish.

A local bait deal had a permit to shot cormorants in his minnow ponds. One day he shot two birds the first bird had

7 crappies 7to9inches inside it. The other had three walleyes each was 16inches. plus each bird had about 3 dozen fatheads on top of that.

Now that is just 2 birds stop and figure if each eats 3lbs of a day on a lake. Now many fish wouls 4,000 eat in 1 day?

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These birds are tough to 'control' in the long run. The cormorants especially breed according to the availability of food, so large scale slaughter doesn't change much as long as the availability of food remains high. While pollution and habitat change reduced the numbers in some areas, fish farming has created easy pickings for these predators in others areas and kept populations high. I remember this from east coast discussions of the problem.

I also seem to remember that long term the cormorant populations stabilize and the effect of the predators is positive on certain fish populations. I know that's hard to believe when you see a bunch of them on a dead tree with their wings outstretched.

My guide says cormorants are native to Minnesota. Appealing I know to blame South Dakota for them. They do group up in the spring when most fish move shallow and become easy picking. When before a few birds wouldn't be worth noticing, seeing a big flock of them can trigger a lot of complaints.

They are most vulnerable in large nesting colonies, usually on islands. Instead of blasting them with shotguns, it's more effective to oil the eggs. Though I may be confusing that with Canadas. If you oil the eggs they don't lay another one and have no offspring.

I'm surprised to read that they would have large fish in the stomach. I thought that they kind of topped out at about 10 inches.

Maybe we can train them to eat bighead carp.

ice

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Here's my 2cents worth. I have a cabin in Alexandria. I too have talked to Mike Sheldon. On our lake, the pelicans come in and scoop up many many many fish. We have seen 80-100 pelicans corral fish and go into a feeding frenzy. We have gotten now where we will jump in the boats and chase them off until they leave. Right or wrong they are gone until next time. Out fishing one day, a pelican was flopping on it's side acting real strange. We went up to take a closer look and it had about a pound and a half crappie lodeged in it's throat. There had been several of them in the shallows eating everything they could get in their mouth. I fish but keep very very few fish, but the pelicans and cormorants have no discretion, they eat and eat till they are full and leave and once they figure there is food, they come back often.

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Very interesting debate on the birds. In my opinion, there should be a balance of things. The federal government, bless their heart (ahemm), protected the cormorant, but failed to do an EIS and determine when appropriate to remove/reduce protections. The gross impact of too many cormorants is something real. They have no predation.

Let's make sure about one thing, ugly doesn't really mean anything. Just because a critter isn't attractive doesn't mean it is bad.

I think the current solution of limited hunt/kill is great.

Are they edible? If they eat walleye, you'd think they wouldn't taste half bad..

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One of my favorite ice fishing lakes was here in ND. This lake is SMALL. I could go out and hammer the panfish during both summer and winter. I could honestly catch blugeill up to 11", I would measure them. HUGE sunnies! Nice largemouth and walleye too. Then spring came in 2002 and the pelicans and cormorants came mad.gif. What the cormorants couldn't shove down their throats the pelicans were picking off the top of the water. This was a small lake, Brewer Lake, if anybody knows it, and the birds destroyed it. I went from catching 100-150 fish a day to about 10. It wasn't fisherman that killed the lake, it was the birds. The NDFG has been trying to revive it but the fish numbers are just drasticly reduced and very few people go out there anymore to fish or camp. Now you mostly find underage drinking going on there. A lot of people call it the DEAD SEA now because you catch hardly a thing. To have no controls put on the birds and to let them feed and breed and feed and breed at the expense of the lakes the Fish and Game manage and stock is ridiculous. I don't buy fishing licenses to provide pelicans and cormorants with more food. How a bird can destroy a lake and be "endangered" does not make sense. It appears the fish populations that the bird feeds on is what is endangered wink.gif.

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