Protected bird providing headaches for anglers and aquaculture

Monday, December 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY, (AP) _ A large, fish-eating water bird has survived and thrived since coming under federal protection in 1972.

And that is creating problems for anglers and concerns for bird watchers in Oklahoma and the nation.

Since the double-crested cormorant has been federally protected, the population has thrived due to the presence of ample food, federal and state protection and reduced contaminant levels.

``They head where there are lots of fish, like shad or any schooling fish and can dive down under water and search for them,'' said Bill Wentroth, biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

``In Texas and Oklahoma fisherman have started to get more vocal in the last few years. They are seeing more birds coming to small ponds and reservoirs were they can cause a lot of damage,'' said Shauna Hanisch, wildlife biologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft environmental impact statement outlining options for managing the cormorant population, including allowing state, tribal and federal officials to shoot the birds and destroy their nests and eggs.

Commercial catfish farmers in Oklahoma already are permitted to shoot cormorants.