Proposed open season on bird threatening the walleye population
The ford government is proposing to declare open season on a species of bird that eats a lot of fish and could threaten walleye stocks in Lake Nipissing.
It's the double-crested cormorant, and the province wants to let people hunt them to lower the population.
With binoculars in his hands, Richard Tafel studies bird species in the north.
He is worried for the cormorant population around Lake Nipissing.
"There's many of them that nest on Lake Nipissing, in particular, and they're seen in most of the lakes in our area." said Tafel.
The province wants to list these as game birds, allowing them to be hunted from March 15th to December 31st.
Anyone with a small game hunting license would be allowed to shoot up to 50 cormorants per day.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. It's appalling. It's heinous. It's primitive. There’s nothing whatever that you could say that is good about it, other than that some people get a salacious love of killing things." said Tafel.
But cormorants can be a nuisance and they eat a pound of fish a day, which makes anglers, like Darryl McLure, unhappy.
"When I'm out fishing with my fishing buddy and a cormorant is on the lake we're on. It's a small lake with stock trout in it. He's in there gorging and I'm saying ‘man I wish I had a shotgun at the bottom of this boat.’" said McLure.
The cormorant population declined significantly in the Great Lakes from the 1950s to the 1970's due to environmental contamination, but they've enjoyed a resurgence lately.
"I doubt they're going to get that big of a response to shooting them.” said McLure.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is asking for public feedback until early January before making a deicison.
If the proposed hunt proceeds, the ministry says it will start monitoring bird numbers.