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Petitions aim to save province's cormorants

Deadline for feedback on ministry's proposal is 11:59 p.m. today
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Cormorant. Village Media file photo

Petitions are circulating in an effort to protect Ontario’s double-crested cormorants.

They are in response to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s plan to allow the hunting of the birds.

While one of the petitions calls for the plan to be scrapped altogether, Kemal Ahmed’s is asking the ministry to lower the number of cormorants allowed to be hunted. The ministry’s plan would allow hunters to kill 50 per day.

“For a bird that is so populous, I think some extent of hunting is acceptable, but when they said they were allowing 50 birds per day, that hit a nerve for me,” said Ahmed.

The North York man was moved to start the petition after reading about the hunt online, including at OrilliaMatters.

Cormorants are found in large numbers in colonies, which would make hunting 50 per day like shooting fish in a barrel, Ahmed said.

“Any type of animal in excessively large quantities can definitely decimate an ecosystem, so I understand why they want to control them,” he said, but added allowing the hunting of too many can have a negative ripple effect on an ecosystem.

While he doesn’t work in an environmental or conservation field, Ahmed said he and his family “have always been interested in conservation.” They were even named the “recycling family of Mississauga” when he was six years old.

“It’s one of the biggest issues facing humanity right now,” he said of threats to the environment.

The ministry is accepting feedback on its proposal until 11:59 p.m. today. That’s also when Ahmed’s petition closes. The petition can be found here.

To read the ministry’s proposal and provide feedback, click here.

There is also a petition circulating on Change.org that can be found here.

There is also some opposition, locally, to the proposed hunting season. Naturalist Bob Bowles feels the cormorant population isn’t at the point yet where hunting is necessary.

“Nature has a balance and we, as humans, tend to upset that balance,” he told OrilliaMatters in December. “Sometimes we need human intervention, but it should be a last resort.”

Cormorants also play an important role that shouldn’t be overlooked, Bowles added, noting they feed on the invasive round goby, which has “devastated fish populations by eating the eggs and the young.”