Oneida Lake Cormorant Hazing ( 2010)
In order to minimize impacts of cormorant predation on the fish community of Oneida Lake, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted cormorant management activities from 1998 through 2009. Along with other activities, APHIS conducted "hazing" in the spring, summer, and fall to move birds off of the lake. Prior to the APHIS management program, as many as 2,700 cormorants had been counted on the lake per day during the fall migration period, while the adult summer resident population had been as high as 900 birds. Cornell University research indicated that cormorant predation prior to 1998 was having significant negative impacts on sport fish populations of the lake, including yellow perch and walleye. After control efforts by APHIS were implemented, cormorant use of the lake and associated impacts on walleye and perch declined dramatically. The average number of cormorants on the lake during the spring and fall migration period dropped to less than 200 birds per day from 2005-2008, while the resident summer population was consistently less than 150 birds per day.
Despite the documented success of the twelve year APHIS cormorant control program on Oneida Lake, funding was eliminated from the Federal budget for 2010. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) could not undertake a similar management program without dramatic reduction of existing programs due to financial constraints and reduced staffing. As a result, no hazing activities were conducted in spring and summer 2010. However, DEC staff was particularly concerned that the fall migration could have significant impacts on the fishery, so a decision was made to attempt some form of fall hazing program. Concerned lake users indicated a willingness to assist in some way, so staff settled on a joint effort conducted by both DEC staff and citizen volunteers. The use of volunteers in cormorant control programs in other states has apparently had mixed results, so this was looked upon as an experimental program to determine the potential effectiveness in New York.
To view the full report: Summary of Fall 2010 Cormorant Hazing Activities at Oneida Lake (PDF) (402 kB)