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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center

Double-crested cormorants

Assessment of Double-Crested Cormorant Diets in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron

While cormorant numbers have declined or remained steady across most of the upper Great Lakes, abundance in Saginaw Bay has continued to grow, doubling in recent years. Cormorants inhabit two locations in Saginaw Bay; Little Charity Island, and the Spoils Island near the mouth of the Saginaw River. Stakeholders have been increasingly calling for management action against cormorants in Saginaw Bay, concerned that cormorants are consuming large amounts of valued sportfish which live in the bay. We are conducting a diet study of cormorants in Saginaw Bay to be compared and contrasted to the regular fish community survey work in the area. We will describe double-crested cormorant diets over their entire breeding season (from first arrival in the spring to departure in the fall). Work in other areas of the Great Lakes has demonstrated that cormorant diets will evolve over the season as the fish community changes over time with warming and spawning activity. Results of this study will be incorporated into management decisions regarding cormorant control in Saginaw Bay and stakeholder communication.

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