I've just been reading a paper published in the Journal of Ornithology titled: "Licensed control does not reduce local Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo population size in winter." It's another of those scientific studies carried out into human-wildlife conflicts which, to my mind, are becoming more and more prevalent. The current proposals for a badger cull being the latest. This paper, written by D E Chamberlain, G E Austin, S E Newson, A Johnston and N H K Burton says it all, more-or-less, in the title.
Here's the thing: Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo have increased on inland waters in Britain causing conflicts with fishing interests - fishermen. Because of this several countries have introduced control measures; either lethal (shooting) or non-lethal (scaring the birds!). The paper states that "Human-wildlife conflicts are at the root of many current conservation problems and occur when requirements of wildlife overlap with those of human intersts." There's a surprise, I bet you could name a few in Britain alone - birds of prey, badgers, ruddy duck, fox, corvids! Measures to resolve such conflicts may include both lethal and non lethal control of wildlife. From the scarecrow to the gun. Cormorants are the source of human-wildlife conflict where their populations are increasing both due to damage to trees from guano - some fine examples of this at Attenborough Nature Reserve in west Notts - and potential impacts on fish populations.
|Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo|
|Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Taken at a local Country Park - Where the fishermen fish.|
|Breeding adult Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - Rutland Water|
The paper concludes that "We therefore suggest that the English winter Cormorant population as measured by the Cormorant index is not negatively influenced by control measures, but we need to add the caveat that not enough is known about the population outside WeBS sites, which are poorly monitored."
What lessons can we learn from this with regards to the Badger culling?
Visit: http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs for information on the Wetland Bird Survey and how you can join in.