LETTER: On cormorants and the Sunday hunt

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, there are 37 species of cormorants in the world. There are four in Canada and as far as I know there are two in Newfoundland and Labrador: the great cormorant and the double egret. It could very well be that with the fact that our government allows sport shooting of these birds, there is none.

You ask why they would allow such unnecessary killings, but there is no answer. There is a vague hint that cormorants eat fish. Well, humans too, by the millions of tons in the world; the same goes for seagulls – we have tens of thousands of them, far exceeding the number of cormorants; seals too – millions of seals eat millions of fish; sea ​​otters do too, and yes, other fish eat fish!

So why are we targeting the cormorant? There is no explanation, and where there is no explanation, we are left to fill in the blanks.

We know for sure that it has nothing to do with science because scientists who know these things have told us that cormorants do not threaten our fish stocks and they are not a problem due to overpopulation . In other words, it is an arbitrary decision made by the government in the same way so many decisions are made these days: an order from above.

There was a time when, before legislating, governments published white papers about this or that or the other, but the more our governments become less and less transparent, the more and more their decisions seem more and more arbitrary.

So, yes, we can guess. Maybe the gun lobby wants another target, another reason to expose us to gun violence; perhaps the aquaculture industry feels threatened by this particular bird; maybe there are children who are afraid of cormorants and after they go to their parents with their complaints and what else could they do but plead with the government to get rid of it of this pest?

Of course, I’m partly stupid, but again, when no explanation is provided by those who make our laws, anything is possible. One thing I do know is that these birds aren’t the most photogenic of wildlife. For the past decade I have tried to capture these wonderful creatures with little to show, but if you can photograph them as they hang their wings to dry they are indeed a very attractive subject.

And with the cormorant’s decision comes the other half of the double whammy: the Sunday hunt. Again, like the namesake of the helicopter that just fell out of the blue, we’re told we can kill these birds on Sunday or, for that matter, any other creature that’s unprotected. We humans were protected at least on Sundays. And for most of us, that had very little to do with religion or church attendance. Yes, we could safely hike the country; have a great day picking berries; or maybe just chop some firewood without fear of being shot with a gun or bow. For no reason that I know of, this all went through the board.

And again, we are left to guess who pressured the government to do this. Here, it seems much more likely that the gun lobby, sports federations and the tourism industry will have more of a say.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who is pressuring the government to enact these laws. What is really important is the effect of these decisions on the general population of this province.

On Sundays, I will feel much less safe walking in the woods; much, much less sure about the transparency of our governments, and much more concerned about the endangerment of one more creature on this planet: the cormorant, which many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians casually refer to as crested cormorants.

Wayne Norman

St. John’s