Audubon painted them, then DDT decimated them, and now they are back with a vengeance and a healthy appetite.
There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when the populations of the double-crested cormorant a 33-inch black water bird with an orange mask, resident in the Florida Keys was on the wane. But now their numbers have reached "historic highs, due to the presence of ample food, federal and state protection, and reduced contaminant levels," according to the US Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) sources.
Isn't that a good thing? No, not if they have a negative impact on fisheries, USFWS says. Since 1972 it has issued permits to kill them in fish hatcheries on a case-by-case basis, when they have been unable to control them with non-lethal methods. In 1998, permits were issued in 13 states. Now USFWS plans to "reevaluate the cormorant's status."
"The Service's responsibility is to maintain healthy cormorant populations across the nation. Our goal is to determine what effects current and projected cormorant populations may be having on commercial and recreational fisheries, and to use the best science available to direct future management," said USFWS director Jamie Rappaport Clark.