A program to control cormorants in Michigan is expected to be a casualty of budget cuts being negotiated in Congress.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends more than $100,000 dollars a year to kill double-crested cormorants in Lakes Huron and Michigan and some inland lakes. The birds eat fish and are blamed for poor fishing in certain parts of the region.
Some of the control work is done by volunteers, including Ed Retherford. But the charter boat captain from Alpena says it’s all coordinated by federal wildlife agents.
“The volunteer guys won’t have any help from the feds at all and I don’t even know if we’ll be allowed to do it then,” he says.
An official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the funding might be eliminated because it’s an earmark, not because anyone in Washington opposes killing cormorants. Last year state wildlife officials had asked the USDA to increase the number of birds killed every year.