cormorant bird

Animal rights activists outraged as cormorant cull proceeds in Ontario

Parks Canada is currently conducting a cull of the double-crested cormorant on Middle Island in Point Pelee National Park in an effort to reduce the population of the migratory bird, but one animal rights group says this practice is cruel and unnecessary — especially amid a provincial stay-at-home order and on World Migratory Bird Day.

The cull began on May 6 and is expected to continue until mid-May, and Parks Canada says it's necessary as the species is considered "hyperabundant" and has caused significant and potentially irreversible damage to the island's native vegetation communities.

"Point Pelee's Management PlanState of the Park Report, and Integrated Vegetation Management Plan all identify hyperabundant double-crested cormorants as a threat to the habitats and species at risk on Middle Island," says Parks Canada

"Without intervention, the biologically diverse vegetation and complex ecosystem on Middle Island would be lost entirely."

But Animal Alliance of Canada, which advocates for the protection of all animals, says the fact that the cull has gone ahead despite a provincial stay-at-home order is shocking, and even more upsetting is the fact that these birds are being shot on World Migratory Bird Day (May 8).

"Animal Alliance of Canada stresses that World Migratory Bird Day is important because it raises awareness about need to protect migratory birds and their habitats," says the organization. 

"It highlights the threats faced by migratory birds, points to their ecological importance, and stresses the need for international cooperation to conserve them," it continues.

"That's why it is so troubling that the Ontario government and Parks Canada fail to celebrate the spectacular return of the Double-crested Cormorant, whose population was driven to precarious numbers twice in the last two centuries and rebounded in the last 70 years."

As a result of these yearly cormorant culls, over 20,000 of the birds have been killed to date.

Last summer, the provincial government also newly declared the cormorant a "game bird," which Animal Alliance says it actually is not. 

But the label means hunters can shoot the birds annually from Sept. 15 to Dec. 31.

This, according to Animal Alliance, is "an outright attack on a migratory bird population that deserves our admiration and protection."

But right now, the group's number one priority is getting the government to halt the cull before even more birds fall victim to it.

Animal Alliance of Canada, along with groups including Zoocheck and Cormorant Defenders International, is therefore urging Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson to signify the importance of World Migratory Bird Day and order his Parks Canada staff to cancel the cull.

Lead photo by

Phil Marion

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