Save a fish; kill a cormorant

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Forget purportedly disease-ridden pigeons or the supposedly overpopulous and dirty Canada Goose — a new feathered menace has taken the title of Most Hated Bird in the US, according to ALL OUTDOORS. Investigators are trying to discover who is behind a pair of recent massacres of hundreds of cormorants, fish-eating birds that are protected by federal law.

The likeliest suspects: irate fishermen. The cormorant population has exploded since the 1970s, thanks largely to decreasing levels of such toxic chemicals as DDT in US waters. As their numbers have grown, the birds have taken a heavy toll on fish populations — gobbling up about $20 million worth of farmed fish annually. “I don’t know how much more pressure the fish here can take,” says one Oregon fisherman.

Cormorants are now the top bird species for which hunting permits are requested. But killing one without a permit can carry a $5,000 fine and six months in jail. Potential solutions to the problem are instituting a “hunting season” for cormorants and oiling their eggs to limit reproduction. As of MoJo Wire press time, handing out “morning after” pills to female cormorants had not yet been formally considered.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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