Cormorant coming soon to a waterway near you


If you have never heard of the double-crested cormorant, you had better start Googling! 

For those of us in Eastern Ontario, you will not need to travel far to find one of these birds during the summertime. For residents of southern and south-western Ontario, the cormorant has virtual taken over the landscape! They are like a roving swarm of locusts which have descended on the Great Lakes and any other lake or river in their path.

And boy can they devour fish like their going out of style!

According to the OFAH: 

“Cormorant numbers are 250-times historic population records. Each cormorant eats a minimum of one-pound of fish per day; in other words, it takes about three yellow perch to feed the cormorants’ voracious daily appetite.” 

And what are the effects of these mangy birds on a provincial scale? 

“In Ontario, the net effect is over 42 million pounds of fish consumed by cormorants each year. Worse than what cormorants take is what they leave behind – that is, only the skeletons of mature shoreline trees. Cormorant droppings are so toxic they have destroyed thousands of miles of precious shoreline habitat.” 

So, after receiving the below photographs from no less than 12 people over the past two weeks, I figured it was about time I post them here at the Outdoors Guy.

The images are as plain as the nose on your face and speak a thousand words as to the devastation these homely black birds are causing:

Please be warned the images you are about to see are graphic in nature (and just imagine how the fish feel) These pics originate from the US, however, the effect on Canadian fish remains the same:


These fish-eating machines make short work of anything in their path. Even a good-sized walleye is no match for the cormorant’s powerful bite:

The damage caused by double-crested cormorant predation is equivalent to black death for our fish populations and something needs to be done.

Sure, the zebra mussels filtered out the zooplankton and cleared up our waters, but these marauding birds are quickly cleaning-out every baitfish and finned-creature they can fit in their greedy grasp.


What can be done, you ask?

Well, you could sign the petition to support Bill 156 for starters. This is a private members Bill to remove cormorant protection and hopefully get the wheels in motion to control these pesky fish-eaters once and for all. 

Click on the OFAH link below to sign the petition:


36 thoughts on “Cormorant coming soon to a waterway near you”

  1. It is not just the fish you have to worry about it is the trees that they kill in there nesting grounds… google some pictures of cormorant damage to trees… It is amazing what they do to the trees

  2. Yeah Chessy, and to think the first time I saw one on Lake Ontario about 20 years ago, it was sort of a novelty at the time.

    Not any more!!


  3. If you haven’t seen they’re effects first hand just have a look in the Bay of Quinte or the bay seen from the Burlington Sky way near Burlington and Hamilton.

    1. I would like to share an email I just received from a reader..’KAD in Ottawa’ wrote:


      Why do the numbers you use seem to differ so greatly from a much more credible source at: Where you say “Cormorant numbers are 250-times historic population records”, I find this very misleading. If you look at the Env. Canada site, the ratio (for breeding pairs) has increased from 900 to 38,000, a ratio of only 42. Yes this is still a very significant increase but the value of 900 was from when surveys were first being conducted in the 50’s (at which time the numbers had probably decreased dramatically anyway due to pollution and loss of habitat). Hunters and anglers, as conservation minded as they may seem to be, are still only interested in the conservation of species which suit their pastimes which is hunting and fishing. I have worked with Ducks Unlimited so I am very well aware of groups life OFAH and their true motivations. A cull is completely unnecessary since it will only create another imbalance in a naturally occurring phenomena and another species will simply come in to ‘predate’ on your precious game fish. You simply can’t kill every animal that happens to impinge on your fun. I ask that you please refrain from misleading your readers via the use of bad math, skewed statistics, and inflammatory language (ie. black death) since the truth will find a way of getting out and ultimately discrediting your cause.



      In response to KAD’s letter, I would like say that, first of all, these values I quoted are not MY statistics or numbers I have pulled out of thin air; I did credit the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters (OFAH) with that quote. Secondly, this is not really MY cause…nor am I even a member of the OFAH…In this case, however, I do respect their hard stance on a bird population in obvious need of management.

      The word ‘cull’ was never mentioned in my post and if I have offended anyone with my ‘inflammatory language’ I do apologize. My point, which was evidently lost in translation, is a simple one. The cormorant population is an admittedly burgeoning one which needs to be addressed…I’m sure even hardcore environmentalists would agree. If supporting a private members Bill is one small way of moving towards that end-goal then hey, I’m all for it!

      I am not quite sure where I indicated that the cormorant as a species be wiped out completely, my point is that if we do not soon control their numbers, it is our native fish species which will soon be wiped out!


      P.S. And sorry, but I still think they’re a homely bird

  4. Good response Jeff with one exception. You have absolutely no need to appologize to any of these left wing psycho anarchist bleeding heart animal rights fightin freaks. AND I’M NOT SUGGESTING THAT YOU ARE ONE OF THESE INDIVIDUALS KAD but if the shoe fits……

    Now that KAD has brought up the suggestion of a cull, once again I say that a ‘controlled cull’ is exactly what is needed here. In fact, any land owner who has cormorant issues can apply to the federal government for a permit to control cormorant numbers

  5. Jeff I suspect they taste a lot more like merganser than “striper.”

    I am sure you have heard the recipy for merganser. Place skinned breast of merganser in oven on oak plank. Simmer until you can stick a fork in plank. Discard merganser and eat plank.

  6. Gotta love how KAD automatically assumes we’re talking a cull.

    Once again another emotionally fueled accusation.

    How about this KAD? You win this one.

    You happy? Ya for you.

    You won b/c we can’t even touch cormorants (good doing your research in understanding that fact). Had you known that hunters can’t shoot them, you wouldn’t have even idiotically hinted at anyone wanting a cull b/c unless the MNR changes the rules, we can’t touch them…..apparently.

    Not allowed to shoot them.

    No, the MNR won’t let us. They will however, engage in spraying OIL BASED PRODUCTS on their eggs/nests which no doubt affects the local environment in some way. Perhaps small….perhaps big – it doesn’t matter, but if they believe it to be an issue. Why not let us have a go? Or do you prefer chemicals being sprayed? Either or?

    To your point, the numbers maybe exaggerated in the original post, but you said, the numbers are significantly higher. I believe it to be the case b/c i never used to see them around and now they’re everywhere. If they eat as much as is reported, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the impact on fish populations.

    And I’m sure Jeff didn’t start this blog as a means to gain for fishing. Did you ever think that maybe it’s a way of saying, “hey, part of our Canadian HERITAGE is being threatened.”

    It really ticks me off that you anti-hunters just automatically assume we’re looking to kill anything at any whim. It’s a ridiculous notion that is fueled more by emotion than actual facts.

    You must have nightmares about hunters and fishermen running around killing everything like it’s a zombie movie.

    give me a break.

  7. @ Rob: A recipe for Cormorants or Antis ?

    @ KAD: QUOTE: “I have worked with Ducks Unlimited so I am very well aware of groups life OFAH and their true motivations”

    Do us all a favor and direct your energy at exposing the wrong doings of the OFAH but please get the facts before opening your mouth and trust me, if the facts are there you’ll find that there’s many a hunter who will support that cause…….

  8. Just a slight clarification Keebler the MNR does not make the rules for cormorants, the Feds do. Like ducks and geese cormorants fall under federal jurisdiction.

    Another point I believe OFAH is asking for a cull as it is the only way to effectively control cormorant numbers.

  9. I have to ask … why does cull have such a negative connotation? Farmers cull their herds regularly … and they do so to maintain a healthy population (it is also used to you know … sell the animals) … I am not sure where they get the idea that a cull is a complete decimation of a population or even going willy nilly and killing without thought to the local population?

  10. Rob that’s because it’s the anti’s way of dramatizing the facts and creating a hysteria thats just not true. It helps with the recruitment of new members and the renewal of old ones. The words like cull, decimation, slaughter etc.. are used in most of there propoganda to create a sense of doom.

  11. Well having seen even the damage and the increased population on the Quebec side of the Ottawa/Outtaouais river, and to be honest the worthlessness of these birds. I can tell you one thing:


    And that’s my view. As for the possible recipe(s), I’ll clasify them in my Crow folder.

    I’m not saying extermination, but “major control”.

  12. funny the stuff this KAD dude puts out. He says leave these birds alone, they’ll eat all the fish, then they’ll all die of starvation. Or the alternative, we cull them they live and fish live. Good choices. Now for a person with a brain, who isn’t a fanatic, who was taught how to use that brain, which sounds the most logical? It’s like saying global warming is melting the earth, but that’s natural, so leave everything the way it is, eventually man will be exterminated, and everything will be good again.
    Another moron posts his anti-man, pro animal garbage out here

  13. Some times i think stuff like this should be kept quiet. The ofah had no business releasing a press statement or put on there website. Sometime people just need to shut up and do their job. The biologist knows what the caring capacity of an area could hold. Just implement it and do it. When it comes to light say oh well… like they use to do and the huggie bears can go take a long dive in a cest pool of cormant crap

  14. People themselves should be aware of what the droppings can do to them.During 3 weeks back in 2005 I was exposed to a large amount of cormorant feces & I am sick still to this day.This is 6 years later.

    1. Brad, that is extremely unfortunate. What have the Doctor’s diagnosed you with and what is the prognosis? Were you doing cormorant research or something to be exposed to so much feces?

      I feel for you, hopefully one day this will be gone from your system.


  15. We moved to the Ottawa River just south of Pembroke four years ago . No cormorants. The following year we saw one. Now we have three or four on the rocks in the river in front of our house sunning/drying every day. The rocks are covered in white. They mingle with the gulls, but take over the prime rocks with impunity. We’ve done a lot of camping and canoe tripping and always thought that Cormorants were kinda cool. Until I read this article, I had no idea they were this destructive.

  16. We have these in our lake, and they’re terrible! We were excited when they came at first because the were way too many brim, but now we want them gone, and they just keep coming back!

  17. Jeff,most doctors believe psittacosis but some think histoplasmosis.It is 7.5 years now since my illness and still I am no better.The doctors say I have long term effects that will never go or get better.People need to be aware of the risks bird feces have and take proper care while around it.It can be a serious matter

  18. In Port Dalhousie today and saw about 8 Commorants, first time I ever saw them, and had to look them up to know what species. They were gobbling up fish swimming around our 2 beautiful resident swans. Are they dangerous to other birds as well as the environment,

  19. Love how everyone is getting up in arms about a native species doing exactly what it has been doing since the dinosaurs. Only now we find them a pest, and in need of “control” because we have polluted the water for both them and their food, reduced their habitat and over fished the crap out of their food supply. Yes. It’s the horrible bird’s fault. Nothing whatsoever to do with us or our practices. I saw 2 today for the first time in my life, they weren’t gobbling up every fish in sight. I hardly doubt that they are taking over. It’s just as bad as the Japanese government trying to justify their dolphin cull buy saying they are eating all the fish and there is nothing left for us. Give your head a shake.

  20. Jenny, are you serious. Just because you don’t see them in numbers or see them eating at that moment then they must not be that bad. Try a little real research of your own.
    Take a walk along a Lake Ontario shoreline and look over the water for 15 minutes. I will bet you $50.00 you’ll count over 200 birds in that short time. Now multiply that mile of shoreline you walked by the 10,000 miles of shoreline in the Great Lakes. ( that equals 2 million potential birds by the way)
    And don’t stop there. Now multiply by the number of fish consumed daily or yearly.
    Now imagine the Terns, Gulls, Ducks, other fish species, and small mammals that eat fish all gone as a result of being out competed by the aggressive and voracious Cormorant.
    At what point in the timeline of this ecological disaster would we have to get to for you to wake up and realize it’s too late.

  21. I live on Lake erie and there were none a few years ago. I see a ton of them now. More and more all the time. I saw what they have done in Hamilton Harbour and it won’t be long before our shoreline is the same. I saw one eat a fish that was I thought impossible. Don’t kid yourself they are ruining our lakes.

  22. We live on Lake Penache just west of Sudbury. There are now more than 100 cormorants on a small flat rock in the middle of our lake.. They swim down the lake like an army diving, and coming up with fish. Our native fish population needs this food. I have 5 grand kids just starting to fish. They certainly won’t have much to fish for in a few years if these birds continue to eat all the smaller fish. Any suggestions on how we can apply for a cull? If we chase them with a boat for several days would they leave our lake…?

  23. I found this sight because I was on Peninsula Lake in Huntsville fishing today (catch and release only) and saw a number of black loon like birds that I wasn’t familiar with. As I went around one of the islands I saw about 8 of them in a tree and all the leaves were dead and gone and the vegetation was dying all around this tree. Returning this afternoon and googling several sights, I’m now aware of the cormorant and I agree with the research so far and my observation today is that this bird appears to be destructive as its dropping are literally killing the plants and trees it inhabits and they have a voracious appetite for fish. I’m a naturalist by spirit but also believe that if a species becomes invasive and disrupts the natural balance, we have an obligation to deal with it. We don’t need to wipe out the cormorant but we do need to preserve the great landscape and fish that have made northern Ontario so great.

    1. Hey Steve, since I wrote this article over 4 years ago things in the Cormorant world have only gotten worse!

      About a month ago, we spotted our first cormorant on the small lake in the Upper Ottawa Valley, not far from Pembroke. Now there are two
      of the fish eating machines hanging out on our lake! If nothing is done there will be more and more..and our resident bass and pike population will be wiped out! Sadly, apart from waiting until they get sooo bad that a controlled harvest is put in place, there is not much we can do about them. Of the time the MNRF implement a cormorant cull in upper Ottawa Valley or in your Huntsville lake, it will be much too late.

      For concerned conservationists, there is really only one thing we can do to rid ourselves of cormorants..and we both know what that is. Unfortunately taking matters into our own hands will only get you in trouble…with natural resources law well as animal rights people.

      So, what do we do Steve? Your guess is as good as mine!


  24. In 2010 my wife and I moved to the Rideau Lakes area to live beside a small lake. We enjoyed seeing the herons and loons. Today the only thing I see are cormorants and lots of them. Their destructive nature is well documented all over North America and Europe. I find it very strange the MNR will cull these birds in Ontario Parks but everywhere else you cannot touch them. It does not make any sense that such an abundant species is protected.

  25. I moved to Port Stanley, Ontario almost 4 years ago. There were no Cormorants the first summer we were here, the second summer there was one (I also had to Google it as I didn’t know what it was) and last summer there were two….I just went for a walk with my dog along Kettle Creek and there were 20-25 in a large tree along the creek! After reading all the comments about the destruction they do to the vegetation not to mention the fish population, I believe that we do need to do something about them!!!! Scary!!!

  26. A cull? Sorry but just because this bird eats fish, and you eat fish, does this mean it should be culled? Are they eating too much for you or something? I think we can get enough food/fish from the grocery store, no?

    These birds are there for a reason and part of our fragile ecological balance. In the long run, we need nature, but nature does not need us, so let’s not mess with it at whim, if we want to stay on this planet.

    To the guy who called all animal sympathizers psychos you are offensive.

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