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Posted by Alex on December 20, 2002 at 10:18:43:

Kerry, I got a email the other day from a friend that I thought you and others might like to read. Very imformative. Something needs to be done about these birds! You have met charlie before at Gintersville while we were crappie fishing!

From: Charles Cothran/

Subject: Cormorants on North Alabama Lakes

I have lived in Huntsville since 1957 and for many years I had never seen a cormorant except in Florida. In the last 20 years they began appearing on Lake Guntersville and in the last several years the population has exploded. Initially they seemed to concentrate on and around the power line transmission towers. More recently they are dwelling on several islands. Due to their large numbers and associated dung droppings, many of the trees on the islands are dying and the stench from the dung is sickening if you go near the islands - especially if you are downwind. The areas are easy to spot - just look for dying trees covered with white dung and follow your nose! If this situation is allowed to continue and the island trees are killed, erosion will soon destroy the islands and some of the lake's most attractive features and habitant for Canadian geese and bald eagles will be lost. What can be done to eliminate or greatly reduce the cormorant population?

For lots of information on this gluttonous bird, go to and search for "cormorant". A quick summary of pertinent data:

27" long

Hooked beak


Young are gray

3 to 4 young per clutch

Eats 250 to 600 gms. fish per day (.5 to 1.3 lbs/day)

You will find numerous studies on cormorant effects on local fisheries all over the US & Canada. The general consensus is that they eat whatever is available with most prey being 2 to 8 inches in length. Some fish are taken up to 15 inches and the bird may eat so much that he is unable to fly.

My estimates and estimates by my fishing buddies are the Guntersville population of cormorants is probably 10,000. This would mean that from 5,000# to 13,000# of fish per day are being taken by these gluttonous predators who have no natural predators of their own (few if any) in this area (alligators for example). Normal predation is generally good for any eco-system. However, the cormorant - for years - was not a natural part of our eco-system. The cormorants are also a similar problem for Wheeler, Pickwick, and Wiess lakes.

The first "big success" of TVA in killing the Guntersville lake milfoil and hydrilla resulted in drastically reducing the bass population and almost completely eradicating the crappie. Lake land owners, businessmen, fishermen, and the TVA "eventually" reached a satisfactory compromise on weed eradication. My observations are that sauger, crappie, and bream populations are decreasing and I have caught several of these (including bass) this year with beak wounds. Also, I no longer see the "clouds" of shad on my depth finder during my winter fishing for crappie and sauger that once were prevalent. I believe the cormorant is greatly responsible for this. What can we do about cormorants?

Large troublesome swarms of blackbirds have been eradicated by spraying them, while on the roosts, with detergent.

If you agree, please use all or any part of this letter and forward to your fishing buddies, congressmen, newspersons, etc. and let's do something about the cormorant. I sure would like to heat up my 12 gauge browning.

I would appreciate any comments.

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