Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting

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Letters to the Editor and Others

What’s Killing the Cormorants?
Sent to NY Newsday 10-22-03

A recent article in Newsday spoke of Cormorant Newcastle Virus, a virus that has been blamed for killing hundreds of double-crested cormorants in Lake Champlain and Oneida Lake. New York State Environmental Commissioner Erin Crotty identified the virus, but did not give details of the studies that confirmed this diagnosis. This point is vital because New York’s anglers, a group with a lot of political might in Albany, are no friends to the cormorants, since their diet consists partly of fish such as yellow perch, alewife, and more importantly, smallmouth bass. While not valuable to anglers, alewife are, according to an article by Ken Schultz in Field and Stream magazine “a small herring that is important as forage for gamefish…”

According to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (9/4/03) “…cormorants have been found to be a significant predator of smallmouth bass, which is a native, economically important species.” New York’s anglers have an interest in killing large numbers of double-crested cormorants, as evidenced by the depredation order the NY DEC has on the species.

While Ms. Crotty noted that the virus appears to be self-limiting, she said the state DEC will see what can be done to mitigate the impact on the birds. One good place to start would be rescinding the cormorant depredation order immediately. The virus has succeeded in killing the birds, which was the goal of the depredation order. As such, the state-sanctioned killing program should immediately cease.

Should the DEC in its special-interest influenced view deem cormorant populations to be too high, there are far more humane methods of dealing with the birds than issuing permits to slaughter them. While far from an ideal solution, in a Special Report dated March 1, 2000 the DEC found that applying corn oil to the eggs of cormorants was “a very effective (and) relatively inexpensive method of limiting cormorant chick production,” where the technique was studied.

Because “cormorant predation has resulted in a significant decline in the abundance of adult bass and in the quality of the sportfishery” according to the DEC, the birds are reviled by anglers and those in the DEC who profit from the sale of fishing licenses.

The public is tired of the special interests controlling how, when and where wild animals, including fish, are managed in the state. While every NY resident has an interest in the state’s wildlife, only those who derive pleasure from state sponsored killing programs and those who profit from them have a say in wildlife’s future and fate. For more information on how state game agencies including the NYDEC profit from the exploitation of wildlife, please visit the website of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting at:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cash/
 or call (845) 256-1400

Joe Miele, Vice President

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting

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