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Management of Double-crested Cormorants to Protect Public Resources

The Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources (DFWMR), in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, carries out integrated double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritis) management programs to alleviate and prevent conflicts with public resources at specific problem areas in New York. Cormorant populations have increased in abundance to the point where they are impacting other colonial-nesting waterbird species and economically important recreational fisheries in some areas of New York. Population control efforts (i.e., egg-oiling, nest destruction, hazing, habitat modification, exclusion techniques, and limited lethal removal of birds) during the past 10 years have helped reduce these conflicts, but continued action is needed. DFWMR manages cormorants in four areas of New York (eastern Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, Buffalo Harbor/Niagara River, and Lake Champlain/eastern Adirondacks). Actions include egg-oiling and nest destruction, non-lethal deterrents to nesting, spring and fall hazing on Oneida Lake and other nearby lakes, and limited lethal take of up to 700 birds statewide to complement and increase effectiveness of other measures. For the most part, this is a continuation of measures used in the past, except that DFWMR may increase use of lethal control measures (i.e., shooting or live-trapping and euthanizing birds) in some situations. Lethal removal of up to 800 cormorants statewide will have a negligible impact on the total population in New York (1.9% of 43,000 birds) or upstate only (2.9% of 28,000 birds).