By Craig McMorris, TV5 Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
The number of cormorant nests in Michigan has been decreasing since population reduction actions were implemented in 2004. That's according to information released by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Cormorants were increasing in numbers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The invasive bird species has been blamed for declining sport fisheries in a number of areas. The breeding population in Michigan stabilized in the late 1990s and early 2000s at around 30,000 nests.
The DNR says since 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division has been oiling eggs at nesting sites and removing adults from the population to meet goals set by the DNR. Additional management activities have also been performed by Tribal natural resource agencies to address concerns related to cormorant impacts to commercial and sport fisheries, as well as alleviating potential conflicts with other species of nesting birds and reduce damage to native plants.
Comprehensive statewide counts from 2007 and 2009 document a 38 percent decrease in breeding cormorants in Michigan, a drop from 29,509 nests in 2007 to 18,200 nests in 2009. The scheduled 2011 breeding cormorant count is underway, and a final count will be available in the fall.
Dr. Francesca Cuthbert of the University of Minnesota, who coordinates the count throughout the U.S. Great Lakes Region, has noted further decreases on breeding colonies in Michigan.
"Preliminary indications are that the final estimate for 2011 will be lower than that for 2009. This trend has been reported by other Michigan researchers and staff from USDA - Wildlife Services," Cuthbert noted.
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