On July 20, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in support of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed rule to establish a new permit for state and federally recognized tribal wildlife agencies for the management of double-crested cormorants (cormorants). This new permit will grant the state’s and tribes more authority to minimize the predation impacts of the expanding cormorant populations at state and tribal owned fish hatcheries, as well as both wild and stocked fish populations in public waters.
The new permit calls for managing cormorants to a region-specific Potential Take Level (PTL), which is essentially a harvest quota to ensure that the overall population of cormorants remain sustainable. Given the science-based PTL approach to cormorant control, CSF also advocated for the new permit to include not only state and tribal lands, but also private water bodies where significant impacts are occurring. Finally, the letter also asked for a new Aquaculture Depredation Order to assist commercial hatcheries that have issues with cormorants significantly reducing their fish production each year.
“Cormorant populations have been expanding for decades, due in large part to increasing food availability with more aquaculture facilities coming online and large, artificial reservoirs being built across the country,” said CSF Senior Director of Fisheries Policy and Midwestern States Chris Horton, “The PTL approach will ensure cormorant populations remain healthy and viable, so we encouraged the Service to allow the states, tribes and commercial aquaculture facilities the maximum flexibility to deal with cormorant depredation issues.”
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?