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The Double-crested Cormorant:
slaughtered for convenience! 

Observations of the 2008 Cormorant Cull on Middle Island

A Critical Analysis of Point Pelee National Park's Rationale
for Killing the Middle Island Cormorants

View the the aftermath of a cull.
Images from the Presqu'ile Provincial Park cormorant cull (2006)


Human persecution and pesticide poisoning drove Double-crested cormorants to the brink of extinction. Remarkably, this magnificent native water bird has rebounded and is now repopulating parts of its former range in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, many people view the return of cormorants as abnormal and claim that cormorants are out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A great deal of misinformation about cormorants has been spread by anglers and wildlife managers fuelling an organized war against the birds on both sides of the US/Canada border. Cormorant Defenders International was formed to respond to this assault on cormorants and to respond to the many erroneous claims made about them. 

Learn more about cormorant issues. Watch the CDI video film Cormorants in the Great Lakes: Dispelling the Myths. Download  (large file)/Order free copy


The most significant threat to Double-crested cormorants are the very agencies charged with their protection. In Canada, those agencies are Point Pelee National Park & Parks Canada and Presqu'ile Provincial Park & the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR).

Parks Canada and the OMNR oversee three locations that are home to Ontario's largest cormorant colonies. Parks Canada controls Middle Island in Lake Erie, while the ONMR controls East Sister Island in Lake Erie and High Bluff Island in Lake Ontario.


The cormorant colony on Middle Island, a tiny speck of land in Lake Erie that became part of Point Pelee National Park in 2000, is threatened. A mass kill of the island's naturally occurring Double-crested cormorant population began in 2008 and will continue for a number of years. The plan to almost wipe out the birds on the island was scheduled to be in full swing in 2008, but a CDI legal challege in federal court delayed it considerably resulting in less than 250 birds being killed, instead of the many thousands that were originally targeted.  CDI representatives observed the cull from boats positioned next to Middle Island and from a land-based station on neighbouring Pelee Island. In 2009, the cull resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,600 birds and in 2010 approximately 3,300 birds were slaughtered.

The park claims the kill is necessary to save Middle Island's vegetation, but changes to the composition of vegetation are part of the natural process of succession experienced wherever colonial birds are found.  The cormorants pose no threat whatsoever to the survival of any plant or animal species and Middle Island is one of the few locations available where cormorants can colonize.


In 2008, Presqu'ile Provincial Park proposed a new cull of the cormorant colony on High Bluff Island that will take place over the next 10 years. The park claims the cormorants are destoying the island and wiping out a unique forest environment, but their claims lack scientific legitimacy. No cull took place in 2009 or 2010.

Double-crested cormorants are a native Ontario water bird and a part of the natural ecology of Middle Island and High Bluff Island, both world renowned bird sanctuaries. The proposals to manage them are ill-conceived, short sighted, a waste of resources and enormously cruel.




Raise this issue today with Environment Canada Minister Jim Prentice! Let him know that the slaughter of cormorants on Middle Island, part of Point Pelee National Park, must be stopped. Tell him cormorants are a part of the natural ecology of Middle Island and that it should be allowed to evolve in a natural way. Remind him that their is no way to humanely kill large numbers of birds in the field and that doing so is an archaic, destructive and cruel method of wildlife management that has no scientific or ecological justification.

Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment
Les Terrasses de la Chaudiere
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
Fax: (819) 953-0279

Raise this issue today with Premier Dalton McGuinty and Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources! Let them know that the killing of cormorants is an archaic, destructive and cruel method of wildlife management that has no scientific or ecological justification and that it should not be allowed in Ontario. Presqu'ile Provincial Park is now proposing a long-term cull of cormorants on High Bluff Island. As well, Minister Jeffrey must sign off on the cull on Middle Island.

Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Fax: (416) 325-3745
Hon. Linda Jeffrey
Minister of Natural Resources
6630-99 Wellesley St West
6th Floor, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON, M7A 1W3
Fax: 416-314-2216

CDI celebrates the presence of cormorants, pelicans, gannets, loons and other fish-eating birds in our environment, and acknowledges the roles these birds play as naturally part of the environments they inhabit. CDI is dedicated to educating the public about cormorants, documenting misinformation about cormorants, dispelling misinformation about cormorants and advocating, as necessary, on behalf of cormorants and
other fish-eating birds.