Date: 1/13/21 3:17 pm
From: Scott Anderson <scott.anderson...>
Subject: Re: NC Seabirds
Hello!

I’ve noticed the recent discussion regarding the Double-crested Cormorant
(cormorants) study carried out by Dr. Bryan Watts at the Center for
Conservation Biology and funded by both the NC Wildlife Resources Commission
and the NC Watermen’s Foundation. The study was prompted by concern (by some)
over the increasing populations of cormorants and the lack of accurate data on
the size of wintering and migrating populations in and traveling through North
Carolina. In addition, the study was designed to quantify not only cormorants
but other fish-eating birds in order to offer the best context for any future
management decisions.

Many studies indicate that cormorants eat whatever is available. The
opportunistic foraging behavior of cormorants simultaneously makes them very
successful and difficult to manage and the presence of cormorants does not
necessarily indicate a negative impact to a particular fish species of
concern.

You may have also heard of a recent US Fish and Wildlife Service Rule
providing an option for states to kill cormorants under certain circumstances
and conditions (for example, any lethal action would *not* be carried out by
the general public). At this time, the Commission does not have any plans to
use this option. Understanding the impact and role of cormorants in our
ecosystem has been our focus for the past few years to ensure that if any
action were taken, it would be precise, impactful, and relevant.

As an aside, Double-crested Cormorants are one of my favorite birds. Some
dismiss them as ugly, but up close they have striking blue eyes, bronzed
feather edging on their backs, and wonderfully weathered and leathery feet.
The focus of my graduate research was on Caspian terns co-nesting on an island
with Double-crested Cormorants. The terns were objectively beautiful big birds
with their snow white backs, black caps, and red bills, but the cormorants won
my enduring affection.

Relevant links:
- CCB Study Article:
https://ccbbirds.org/2021/01/06/seabirds-and-fish-along-the-coast-of-north-carolina/
- Double-crested Cormorant USFWS Rule:
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/29/2020-28742/migratory-bird-permits-management-of-conflicts-associated-with-double-crested-cormorants

Sincerely,
Scott Anderson
Bird Conservation Biologist
NC Wildlife Resources Commission
 
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