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Just wanted help with the hundreds of pelicans eating everything in site on cannon lake. I just moved to a new house on the lake and have been watching them every night. They come in an hour before sunset and create (pacts) for hunting fish. They are amazing hunters, when they find the school of fish they all fly to that spot and eat until no fish are left. Anyways, was wondering how to get rid of them. I have chased them off in a canoe a few nights but they keep coming day and night. I have a strong feeling they are the reason walleye fishing has been so poor on cannon for the last few years. Any ideas appreciated.

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They have also taken up residence on grassy island on Madison Lake. They used to just migrate through, but now they stay all summer and eat fish and stink up the island. I also wonder what effect these fish eaters have on fish populations. They are large birds and must eat at least a pound of fish a day. 100 birds is 100 pounds a day X 120 days if they stay for 4 months and thats 12,000 pounds of fish!

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I've seen this the last couple nights also as im driving north from Owatonna! These birds can take out an entire population of fish in just a few days! They eat so much and are so efficient! What can we do? I'll help if there is any way to help...

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Any idea what type of fish they are eating?

Most times when I have seen this they are eating bullheads or some type of bait fish.

I don't think there is much we can do (or should do even) this is just how nature works.

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I don't think there is much we can do (or should do even) this is just how nature works.

I agree

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I know that right now they are eating shinners and small baitfish that I have been seeing coming to the surface, but I have also seen them eat walleyes. About 3 years when the fishing was good on circle lake I was catching walleyes in shallow water and they were catching the same fish right next to me. they were there literally in the thousands, and I am 100% certain they are the reason circle lake is way down in numbers. I am not saying that right now they are eating walleyes, which they could be. I am saying if they eat all the baitfish in the lake they will indirectly negatively effect the fish population. The only reason the birds left on circle(which not all have but most), is because they had eaten the lake dry and there was nothing left for them to forage on. I realize there may be bird lovers out there that like to see them around but i am just wondering, at what cost? And at what point will the DNR step in? Hopefully we will not have to see more lakes decimated by these birds before something is done about it. Sorry I am so long winded about this, but it is something that has been on my mind for a while...

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skarupa13,

I think your concern is legitimate. May I suggest you contacting the Fisheries Office in Waterville, MN and ask for their input/thoughts. In fact, one of their employees just may chime in here if we play our cards right.

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as far as the comment from river rat, I do think this is something I should do something about. I feel these birds are right now like humans were in early america. (They come to an area, wipe it out of all natural forage, and then move on to the next area to do the same thing). Basically, i know this is far fetched, but I am calling them a plague. I feel that if we as outdoorsman and women do not educate ourselves on there existance there is a possibility of them wiping out local lakes for many year before something is done to stop them.

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I intend on talking with them tomorrow and asking about any research they have done with this subject. Could you post the phone # on here?

thanks

(enough for right now, I just looked out the window and they are back at it so of I go into my canoe for a leasurely ride around the lake)

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Why is it always the poor Walleye that the birds eat into nonexistence. You would think that since Pelicans are not divining birds Walleyes would be smart enough to go deeper. Or you would think the Pelicans would eat the over abundant stunted sunfish that live in the shallows. But NOOOOO. I think the cormorants and Pelicans have something against Walleyes. They should kill them all.

Don't you think that sounds a little strange. smirk

From what I've seen all the small Walleyes are up the cannon feeding the Catfish, Northerns and larger Walleye up stream to the Dam.

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I intend on talking with them tomorrow and asking about any research they have done with this subject. Could you post the phone # on here?

thanks

507-362-4223

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The Pelican is an eating machine. I really don't know what kind(s) of fish they are eating in southern Minn. but whatever it is, it looks like they're going to be around for awhile. As stated earlier, they have really taken over Madison's island and "stink" would be a pleasant way to describe them. I used to take trips up to Lake of the Woods (Canadien side) and camp out on the islands up there. Each night, we would clean all our walleyes down by the water and attract a handfull of pelicans in the process. I've seen just 2-3 pelicans knock down the carcasses of well over 15+ walleyes all between 15" and 20" without blinking an eye. Amazing site...one that makes me wonder just how much they actually do eat everyday.

A couple of years ago, it seemed like we might have a Cormorant problem as well. The #'s kept increasing each year and then the Pelicans showed up and now I really haven't seen them around too much anymore. Wonder if the Pelicans and Cormorants don't get along or something. Both eating machines but if I had to put up with one over the other it would certainly be in favor of the Pelican. They are absolutely beautiful in the air.

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no, i am not saying it is just the walleyes, I am saying on the 2 lakes I am talking about the walleyes travel in the shallows in the spring and fall. In order for them to get to morristown they have to travel the river which is mostly less than 2 feet deep. I am sure they eat all fish, which is what I have been saying.... they eat everything!!!

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I afraid that Pelicans are protected by federal law and the state DNR can’t do a thing to help. If you are chaseing them off the lake you are braking the law and can be sited for it. Just thought I would let you know so you don't get to carried away with your Pelican war.

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"I don't think there is much we can do (or should do even) this is just how nature works."

I agree,

These birds are much less efficient than the hoards of boats in the summer or the hoards of ice fisherman in the winter that camp over schools of feeding fish and wipe them out.

The only difference is that the birds stop when their belly's are full while "SOME" fisherman won't stop until their freezer is full. I understand they make a mess and do take quite a few fish but then so do some of us.

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Another thing to consider is that even if scaring the birds off of your lake (or any lake) would work and be legal, they still need to eat and will go elseware to do so. It's no fun when things happen on a favorite lake, but it is just a burden we will have to bare.

Another area lake saw tons of pelicans for the last 3-4 years and fishing has not been hurt at all, just something to consider, maybe they won't hurt that lake.

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I have not noticed a decline in the fishing at all on lakes that have the pelicans.

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I would call and see what they say. There was nothing the DNR could do about the Cormies on Leech lake either. But eventually they convinced someone and they took the worthless things out. I agree, the fishing on Cannon recently has not been all that good. I don't know if it has anything to do with the Pelicans or not though. Worth a call to find out for sure.

Also, this is just a question, but what is illegal about scaring them off the lake?

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Look what the cormorants did to the island on Cannon/Wells Lakes. By making this their "home base" they completely killed the trees and vegetation. It looks like chemical bomb went off there. Man they have some powerful dung.....

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Also, this is just a question, but what is illegal about scaring them off the lake?

I'm not sure that there is rule saying that "Chasing pelicans is illegal" but if it were witnessed by the wrong people it could be seen as harassment possibly?

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MN Statute

86B.313 PERSONAL WATERCRAFT REGULATIONS

Subdivision 1.General requirements.(a) In addition to requirements of other laws relating to watercraft, a person may not operate or permit the operation of a personal watercraft:

(7) to chase or harass wildlife

Now I know this also applies to motorboats, snowmobiles, atv's, and other vehicles....

I will continue to check into it with the DNR and will re-post when I get a definite answer, but I would say it is a thin line with a canoe and I would not advise it.

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Zepman, pretty sure I witnessed pelicans and cormarants working together to feed on Union Lake last summer, it was like the a bunch of cormarants would dive down and chase whatever the were after to the surface and then the Pelicans would chow down, thats the conclusion i came up with

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skarupa13, it’s nice to see some lakeshore residents are interested in the well being of the lake they live on and specifically the fisheries. In my observations, I’ve come across fewer and fewer lake shore property owners that actually fish, so having someone take an interest in the lake and fish species is great to see.

Here's my $0.02. Your colonial waterbirds to colonial settlers analogy is a bit off. Cormorants and pelicans have been here for a long time; their ecological niche has been carved out and their population cycles are self-regulating. For example, you might remember when a bunch of colonies of cormorants and pelicans were hit by Newcastle virus last fall. Cormorants and pelicans are federally protected species that can be controlled by permits issued by the USFWS if there is damage to private property or public resources, like unique vegetation or vulnerable fisheries communities. An environmental impact statement would have to be generated to get one of these permits and I have my doubts if Cannon lake could show documented public or private resource impacts at a level to justify a permit. Also, harvesting or harassing federally protected species is illegal.

In the stained waters of southern Minnesota, pelicans will never by themselves be able to decimate any fish population. They are sight feeders that are completely opportunistic. They tend to feed on the most abundant prey item; whatever species is most readily available is the first species taken. They will not decimate an entire fish population in just a few days and they are not superefficient predatory machines (I hope some of the comments I’m reading are in jest!)

Scientific literature has shown that cormorants and pelicans eat small fish, two to six inches long, that are the most readily available to them rather than selecting certain fish species. In Cannon, the most abundant fish species in this size range are carp, freshwater drum, bullheads, yellow perch, bluegill, crappies, and minnow species. You’d be hard pressed to find many walleye in the diet.

Overall keep in mind that low fish (i.e. walleye) abundance could be from a variety of factors here in southern MN: winterkill, weather, spawning/stocking year class survival, nutrient loading, fishing pressure, vegetation shifts, other species impacts, etc. It comes down to so much more than apparent or perceived bird predation. I think that’s why you are seeing so much research on the subject, including Leech Lake.

The status of the fishery for Cannon Lake (2004) on Lake Finder at the DNR website offers some clues as to what is going on with the walleye population: “Walleye catch per gill net was at a moderate level and had declined from previous surveys in 1994 and 1999. High catches of young-of-year walleye in fall electrofishing samples (greater than 50 per hour) occurred in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996. Catches in the late 1990's through 2003 were low. This apparently low walleye recruitment over that last seven years appears to have resulted in the reduced walleye abundance in Cannon Lake. Young-of-year abundance in fall 2004 electrofishing was the second highest recorded and may result in an improved walleye population in Cannon Lake by 2006 and 2007. The 2004 walleye population was primarily age 3 fish from the 2001 year class when a large naturally spawned year class occurred in Tetonka and Upper Sakatah lakes and to a lesser extent in Cannon Lake.”

It appears as if the 2004 year class didn't pan out by the accounts given in this thread. Cannon lake is due to have netting data updated, but you can see how easily it is for the lake to have high and low walleye abundances. Factoring in that the lake is not a closed system further compounds things. The Outdoor News came today and the featured lake on the back page was Byllesby. There was a comment by Kevin Stauffer, the DNR manager at Lake City about how walleyes seem to move into the lake during the winter and stay in the river during the summer. Who's to say the same thing isn't happening at Cannon Lake?

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Skarupa, I think it is less likely that these pelican are eating walleye because 1) numbers seem to be down already, and 2) walleyes are more likely to swim up river at night. Just my thoughts. I guess. Anyway where are these birds hanging out? Did you call DNR? I was wondering what they told you.

I have to agree with Da_Chise on this, that it appears the '04 year class must not have pulled through. Seems like Cannon is following the classic reservior concept. Productivity is always good soon after dam closure. As time moves on the system will lose productivity because of natural processes. Since Cannon lake is highly eutrophic it is highly likely that these fish grow fast early and die younger than a less eutrophic systems.

P.S. you know who I am. Big tall guy. you graduated H.S. with my sister.

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I hope they stay over on Union SneakAttack. That would have been neat to see. I know the cormorants are terrible down on Lura the past few years. Every time I fish there I feel like I'm in some sort of sci fi movie. Spooky looking things they are.

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It is my opinion that the problem with fishing on cannon lines the banks from opening day through out the summer as it is one of the most well known shore fishine location in rice county and southern mn ,northern Iowa I will try not to offend anybody but (most)ar

un educated about the concerns of todays catch and release practices and

most of the people are not going to return their catch to the water .

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Oh man talk about Lura. I went to the taxidermist To pickup my Walleye ( At Minnesota Lake). I asked him if he did any of the Walleyes that were taken from Lura during the last full moon phase of the ice season. He just pointed at the wall. WHOW! He had about 6 Walleye over 30” and a couple just under. Lura isn’t hurting for Walleyes.

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