Date: 1/13/21 9:55 am
From: <badgerboy...>
Subject: Re: NC Seabirds
Please excuse the soapbox, and click "delete" now if only interested in
rare bird sightings.

I checked the link provided about the cormorant killing ("culling") in
PA. Very difficult to say whats going on there, but it seems likely to
be a great example of exactly the kind of scapegoating I was warning about.

They start by demonizing cormorants because of their appearance and
numbers, describing them as "an all-black seabird that has risen from
once-obscure numbers here to a genuine pain in the butt".

They then cite vague and unsubstantiated worries about negative impacts
on other wildlife, stating that "Cormorants don't take over the egret
and heron nests or plunder the eggs. But they are taking up the
available trees for their own stick nests" and "Moreover, studies show
the droppings of cormorants /can/ kill trees." (Emphasis my own) There
seems to be no direct causal evidence of harm provided, and not even any
indirect evidence that I can see.

Finally they throw in purported economic harm as a clincher, with
"Certainly, cormorants have become the bane of many anglers because they
eat fish. They raid fish hatcheries and commercial aquaculture
operations. Their burgeoning numbers have had negative impacts on

This one small instance of wildlife targeting is not likely in itself to
have any impact whatsoever on overall cormorant numbers or ecosystem
function. It might even have a very small and positive local influence
on heron and egret numbers. What is problematic is the complete
dismissal of any possible positive role in the ecosystem, the absence
any acknowledgment that wildlife has a job to do, a valuable feedback
function to perform, and the narrow focus on the negatives, which
justify people's innate urge to control. I think the real danger is that
public attitudes and psychology, which are already slanted against
wildlife, will be reinforced and amplified by this official sanction for
violence against wildlife.

End soapbox.  Guy McGrane, Boone, NC

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