Studies released by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation indicate that the decline of Lake Ontario’s small mouth bass fishery is directly related to the rise in population of the Double-Crested Cormorant. Based on eleven studies conducted in 1998 on the cormorant’s feeding habitats that show that cormorants have a significant impact on warm water fish populations. According to Larry Garland of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Service, this study is the specific evidence that suggests that there is a link between sport fishing and cormorants.
A treaty with Canada and Mexico protects cormorants. Vermont Fish and Wildlife has been trying to get a permit to control cormorants from the US Fish and Wildlife for ten years. According to Garland they are not too optimistic about getting this permit. Instead, they are working with the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program that allows private landowners to receive assistance in controlling cormorants and sea gulls.
Lake Champlain’s cormorant population has risen dramatically in the past decade. Only one pair of cormorants could be found nesting in Vermont in the 1980’s compared to an estimated 4,000 nesting pairs in 1997. A 1996 study conducted by Margaret Fowle, from the University of Vermont, claims that small yellow perch, rather than more prized catches, make up over 80% of the cormorant diet of about a pound of fish per day.