Cormorant control: it's not clear cut15/03/2013 11:10:16 BTO research into cormorant control - Inconclusive
March 2013. The UK Cormorant population has increased in size and range in recent decades, with more birds breeding and wintering inland, leading to potential conflicts with fisheries. Control measures have been introduced in response to this, with licences issued to kill up to 2,000 birds annually since the mid-2000s.
New research by the BTO has examined whether this control has been associated with changes in Cormorant numbers on Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) sites, especially on Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated to protect particular species under the European Birds Directive.
Due to the potential for increased Cormorant movements following control, both at larger scales and between unmonitored and monitored sites, these findings do not provide evidence as to whether control has influenced the national population trend. Further work is needed to better monitor Cormorants outside WeBS sites and to research their population dynamics, movements and behaviour. The key questions of whether Cormorant control has the desired effect of reducing predation at fisheries, and how cost effective it is compared to other measures, remain to be answered.
Full citation: Chamberlain, D.E., Austin, G.E., Newson, S.E., Johnston, A. & Burton, N.H.K. 2013. Licensed control does not reduce local CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo population size in winter. Journal of Ornithology, doi: 10.1007/s10336-013-0938-3.