Lake Vermilion Cormorant Control Suspended

Lake Vermilion cormorant control activity has been suspended. There will be no egg oiling on Potato Island this year based on a May 26, 2016, decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The court ruled that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had not complied with the National Environmental Policy Act in conducting their cormorant control program. The decision immediately vacated cormorant Public Resource Depredation Orders (PRDO) nationwide, requiring the USFWS to stop cormorant control activities. This includes egg oiling, which suffocates and kills the eggs.  The ruling further requires the USFWS to consider alternatives to cormorant control and to complete an environmental assessment of their current program and alternatives for controlling the nuisance birds. The USFWS estimates it will take seven months to complete the court-ordered environmental review.

During this environmental review period, the Minnesota DNR will collect additional data on the Lake Vermilion cormorant population. The nest count on Potato Island conducted by them on May 24, 2016 showed 325 nests which is similar to the level of the past three years. A follow-up visit to the island in early June revealed that many of the nests had four eggs. Typically, cormorant nests fledge 2-3 birds. The agency is also exploring the option of seeking a site specific permit for cormorant control outside of the PRDO process. Such action would require them to prepare an environmental assessment on controlling the Lake Vermilion cormorant population.

Sportsmen’s Club of Lake Vermilion (SCLV) volunteers provided assistance to the DNR by counting cormorants during our annual loon count in early July. This data will help the DNR in developing the appropriate strategy to insure that Lake Vermilion fish populations are not negatively impacted by these fish-eating birds. Lake users can also help by being on the lookout for cormorant nesting activity in areas other than Potato Island. Any such nesting activity should be immediately reported to any SCLV board member.

Read eVermilion