Few fowl species divide the hearts of people as shortly because the double-crested cormorant. On my every day walks at Ashbridge’s Bay in Toronto, I have a look at the comical waterfowl with the intense orange face and neon turquoise eyes and suppose Archaeopteryx, a birdlike dinosaur that lived within the Jurassic interval, about 150 million years in the past. The truth is, there may be fossil proof of this cormorant species going again to the Pleistocene Epoch, starting 2.6 million years in the past.

Many individuals, although, discover the massive birds with the four-foot wingspan simple to hate. After the Ford authorities introduced on July 31 that it might permit a fall looking season for cormorants from Sept. 15 to Dec. 31, (with a restrict of 15 of the inedible birds per hunter per day) with the intention to cope with considerations from “property house owners, hunters and anglers, and industrial fishers,” on-line feedback brimmed with vituperation in opposition to the birds. They had been condemned for his or her propensity to kill the bushes wherein they nest, and their potential to deplete fish shares within the waters the place they feed. One author referred to as them “filthy nature destroyers”; one other referred to as them “disgusting.”

Responding to an article within the Star concerning the province green-lighting the cormorant hunt, one man wrote a letter to the editor calling the cormorant “ugly” twice, suggesting maybe “the great Lord had made it from leftovers.” However you possibly can’t determine to kill a species of animal simply since you suppose it’s unattractive or discover it disgusting. Wildlife administration options should be based mostly on science.

The Ontario Ministry of Pure Assets and Forestry estimates there are greater than 143,000 breeding cormorants within the province and that their numbers within the Nice Lakes have “stabilized or declined barely” since 2000. Ontario Nature says this represents an environmental success story, as a result of the birds have “rebounded from historic lows within the Nineteen Seventies, after struggling steep declines due to publicity to environmental contaminants.”

Within the Star’s Aug. 3 article saying the hunt, York College environmental scientist Gail Fraser, who has studied cormorants, instructed reporter Gilbert Ngabo that the hunt wasn’t vital, that it wasn’t science-based, and that it was a “political manoeuvre” to enchantment to the federal government’s base.

Fraser reiterated her place in an open letter despatched to John Yakabuski, the pure sources minister, final month. Based on a CBC report, the letter was signed by 51 consultants in ecology, fisheries science and pure useful resource administration from Canada and the U.S. The consultants stated the hunt was not based mostly on science. As an alternative of the hunt, they urged the adoption of “focused, localized administration approaches.” They referred to as on the province to supply a “science-based, detailed and peer-reviewed strategy” to cope with the cormorant difficulty.

This winter, whereas the cormorants are sojourning down south, the Ontario authorities ought to overview its determination to permit looking of the birds and ship a administration technique based mostly on science and one of the best wildlife administration practices obtainable. Let’s guarantee we’ll all the time have the return of the double-crested cormorant to look ahead to every spring.

M.L. Bream is a former Star editor. She is writing a guide concerning the swans of Ashbridge’s Bay.

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