Peaceful Co-existence with Wildlife
Our wildlife campaign focuses on dispelling the myths of ‘nuisance’ and ‘over-abundant’ wildlife, and aims to foster a better understanding of the ecological importance of common species.
Wildlife labelled as nuisance or over-abundant suffer from lethal government management programs that can be cruel and unnecessary.
Whether common wildlife is viewed as ‘nuisance’ or ‘over-abundant’ is a personal view and not based on science or ecological or biological criteria. It’s based on social tolerance, also referred to as ‘social carrying capacity’.
Measuring social carrying capacity is often determined on the tolerance level of specific demographics and businesses such as farmers, property owners and sport hunting and angling interests rather than overall public attitudes towards wildlife. The lack of tolerance for common wildlife can result in government programs aimed at reducing wildlife populations by shooting, trapping, open hunting seasons and poisoning.
To win public support for such controversial actions, natural activities of wildlife are given a negative value with no consideration to their ecological value or any other value. Examples of wildlife viewed as 'nuisance' in Ontario are beavers, coyotes, raccoons, crows, white-tailed deer, black bears and double-crested cormorants.
The Cruelest of Lethal Control: The Double-crested Cormorant
"When they shot the birds sitting in their nests, it created a palpable panic among the birds. The chaos is equal to a car driving into a crowd of bystanders. And when their mate returned to find its partner shot and dangling from the nest, it sat and waited confused. Without its mate, it abandoned the nest" PPC volunteer witnessing the shooting of nesting cormorants at Presqu'ile Provincial Park
A cormorant shot at Point Pelee National Park by government sharpshooters in 2016 - courtesy of Cormorant Defenders International.
Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford announced in November 2018 a proposal to establish an annual open hunting season for Double-crested Cormorants from March 15 to December 31.
The outrage was swift.
Pressured by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association, the Ford govt. proposed an extermination plan to allow sport hunters to shoot colonies of nesting Double-crested Cormorants killing both adults and their chicks with no limits on the number of hunters that could attack a colony at any given time. It only limited sport hunters to 50 dead birds a day with a maximum limit of approximately 14.000 dead birds a year. Given that the population of cormorants across Ontario, according to the last census in 2007, is approximately 150.000 birds, it would take only 100 hunters to wipe out the population in one season.
Killing both adults and their young would kill this generation of birds and the next and is a calculated extermination.
Double-crested Cormorants are being systematically eliminated from the Great Lakes basin by a joint concerted effort by state, federal and provincial fish and wildlife government agencies primarily to appease an irate sport fishing lobby that have long accused the bird of eating ‘too many fish’.
In some cases, such as Point Pelee National Park, government agencies argue that double-crested cormorants are ‘destroying’ trees and ground vegetation and must be killed to ‘preserve biodiversity’. In the name of ‘preserving biodiversity’, both Ontario Parks and Parks Canada have initiated massive killing programs of nesting Double-crested Cormorants.
Since 2000, tens of thousands of cormorants have been killed either through direct shooting of nesting adult birds or through egg oiling, a process of coating eggs with mineral oil to suffocate the embryo inside eliminating an entire generation of young birds.
The Ontario Parks’ program has been successfully challenged through citizen action and Ontario Parks no longer culls nesting cormorants.
The killing of cormorants is most efficient during the nesting period because the birds display a strong maternal instinct making them reluctant to leave their nests during times of disturbance or threat.
Government sharpshooters simply take aim at birds sitting idle on their nests incubating their eggs. Typically, hundreds of birds can be killed within a few hours, and thousands within a few days.
Point Pelee National Park is currently the only jurisdiction in Ontario that continues to kill nesting cormorants.
The cormorants is a migratory bird native to the Great Lakes region. As cormorants are skillful aquatic predators, they are often perceived as depleting fish stocks. They tend to nest in isolated islands either on the ground or in trees to avoid predators. When nesting in trees, their acidic guano will eventually kill the host tree. However, their colonies tend to be dense and take up little woodland space.
Cormorants are considered to be engineering species, like beavers, that change their local environment to suit their own biological needs. In doing so, they create habitat that is necessary for other co-species. The denuding and eventually killing of trees create habitat for large nesting birds such as Great Blue Herons that need dead or open canopy trees to nest and open spaces for ground nesting birds. Cormorant colonies also attract other colonial waterbirds species such as gulls that feast of cormorant eggs and chicks. The removal of cormorants from the Great Lakes could result in an unknown shift in ecological stability of the aquatic ecosystem.
For More Information, please visit our Blog Page
No decision has been made by the Ford govt. on an open hunting season of Double-crested Cormorants as of April 2019