FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2022: TORONTO – While families prepare to celebrate this time of year, a season of rebirth, Parks Canada staffers are preparing yet another round of killing Double-crested cormorants, on Middle Island in Point Pelee National Park.
“None of this makes any sense,” says Liz White, Party Leader. “The science does not support any of the Parks claims about negative impacts of the birds. If Middle Island were pushed 100 metres to the south, into US territory, there would be no endangered species to protect. Yet, despite there being no species at risk and COVID numbers in Ontario on the rise, the park will pack a number of people into a boat with the sole purpose of a four-day cormorant cull. Why is Parks Canada spending thousands of taxpayer dollars, risking the health of their staff and area residents, and killing these beautiful animals, in what is supposed to be a bird sanctuary? Whoever is making these decisions should be ashamed.”
For years Parks Canada has claimed killing the birds is necessary to maintain the ecological integrity of the island. “The ecological fact is that the cormorants, herons and egrets constitute the ecology of the island, as would the white pelicans that seem to be trying to nest there, but are frightened away by the disturbance,” says Barry MacKay, naturalist and Canadian Representative for Born Free USA. “And now that the Ford government has allowed, essentially, an open season on cormorants for Ontario hunters, the population could be in real danger of extirpation.”
Human persecution and pesticide poisoning drove Double-crested cormorants to the brink of extinction over 60 years ago. Thanks to government efforts, this species has rebounded and is now repopulating parts of its former range in the United States and Canada, fulfilling a valuable ecological role. Not only do they benefit biodiversity, they help generate healthy fish populations and should be considered an integral component of the area’s natural heritage.
“There are so many other initiatives that Parks Canada could be taking to be leaders in park management,” continued White. “But instead they choose the archaic approach of killing animals in their parks. What a waste, wasted money and wasted opportunities.”
Park managers in the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) have conducted innovative studies in non-lethal management of cormorants at Tommy Thompson Park, home to one of the largest waterbird colonies in the Great Lakes basin. “The TRCA staff are pioneering techniques that are not only low cost, but also humane and effective. We are grateful for their work and for their willingness to try new methods so that humans can co-exist peacefully with this species,” said MacKay.