Will hunting cormorant birds help to protect Ontario’s ecosystem?


York University bird expert available for comment

TORONTO, December 10, 2018 – Ontario’s high population of double-crested cormorants – birds with a bad reputation for eating fish and nesting habits that kill trees – may be best controlled with government-led deterrence methods, rather than allowing extreme legal hunting of the species, according to York University Professor Gail Fraser.

The Ontario government proposal to establish a hunting season to control the growing number of cormorants is the subject of a public consultation that will end on Jan. 3, 2019. The policy would allow hunters to kill up to 50 cormorants per day; with no limits on the number they could kill during the hunting season.

Fraser, an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies and an expert on colonial nesting birds, is available for comment. In her submission as part of the public consultation, Fraser is asking the Province to consider doing population targets and modelling exercises to determine the impacts of establishing a hunting season for the native Ontario species.

Fraser is an expert on environmental protection, environmental policy, wildlife conservation and wildlife management. She is a member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s cormorant advisory committee, has undertaken extensive research on cormorants and co-wrote six peer-reviewed journal articles about cormorants and management of the species. Fraser is also the co-author of Living with Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus): A Spatial Approach for Non-Lethal Management in Toronto, Canada, a comprehensive paper on managing the birds, published this year.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is considering allowing a nine-month hunting season on the birds and classifying them as game birds. Fraser is available to provide her reaction to the proposal, describe the role of cormorants in the Great Lakes ecosystems and explain how cormorant ecology relates to biodiversity.

York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Through cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design, diverse experiential learning and a supportive community environment, our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact:

Vanessa Thompson, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097, vthomps@yorku.ca