Documents caution long hunting season could create ‘public safety issues,’ affect ecosystems

The Doug Ford government risks endangering the public and damaging Ontario ecosystems with its proposed double-crested cormorant hunt, according to its own wildlife experts.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) asked its staff for feedback on the creation of an annual cormorant hunting season from March 15 until Dec. 31, as well as making Ontario the only province in Canada to remove the bird from protected status.

Cormorant populations declined from the 1950s to the 1970s but have since rebounded. In some locations, commercial fishers and property owners say the birds have reduced fish populations, and that their acidic feces have damaged island forests, shorelines and other areas.

But documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation show widespread pushback in late 2018 and early 2019 against the proposed hunting season from wildlife experts within the ministry.

They suggest the government should rethink the plan altogether, citing concerns that include the potential for endangering the public.

By Amanda Pfeffer

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