Cormorant On The Golf Course

Cormorant On The Golf Course
Cormorant On The Golf Course

I spotted this cormorant at the Washtenaw Golf Club.

Cormorants are a controversial species. The birds eat up to a pound of fish a day, and large flocks have been blamed for damage to Great Lakes fish populations. Large cormorant colonies (as many as 10,000 pairs) also cause other ecological problems, such as the destruction of trees. Their droppings are acidic, and poison the ground as well as damaging cars and buildings.

In response to this, the Fish and Wildlife service authorizes cormorant cullings. In 2018, the agency issued permits to kill up to 18, 270 cormorants across eight states in the midwest.

Cormorants nesting in trees they have killed. (USDA Wildlife Service photo)

The bird has its defenders, though. Environmental activists argue that efforts to reduce cormorant populations has an impact on other species, such as herons and gulls.

Interestingly, there apparently is little record of cormorants on the Great Lakes before the 20th century. The birds apparently moved into Michigan in the 1970s. Their populations exploded once they were able to feed on the alewife, a prolific invasive fish species in the Great Lakes. In 1972, there were 125 nesting pair; today, there are 40,000.

I take no stand on cormorants. But I do not think the pair at the golf club will stay long. The pond is small, and cannot possibly contain enough fish to sustain them for long.

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