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  • Cormorant Season Coming Up

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    South Carolina's outdoorsmen will soon have the opportunity to hunt one of the state's biggest nuisance birds, according to SCDNR officials. The nearly two-month long season will take place after waterfowl season, and will only apply to Lakes Marion and Moultrie, said the DNR's Derrell Shipes, who is the head of statewide wildlife projects at the organization.

    These large birds float like ducks, and have webbed feet to help propel them through the water. The can dive and stay submerged for long periods, chasing fish that they eat in numbers that are devastating to fish stocks.

    Estimates by local fishing guides and Clemson University range between 6000 and 25,000 cormorants on the Santee-Cooper lakes, depending on the season, and studies suggest the birds typically eat 8 fish per day. Their diet consists of shad, bream, and small bass, as well as other small fish.

    Black's Camp fishing guide Kevin Davis supports open season on these birds, and said it is long overdue. 'We've been hollering about this for 15 years. There's always been cormorants on these reservoirs, but there's been a lot more migrant cormorants in recent years,' he said.

    Cormorants are federally-protected birds, so South Carolina applied for, and received, a depredation order. With limited staff and funding, the agency decided to look to the state's sportsmen to get help with controlling the population of these birds. The DNR will soon announce how to register for the cormorant program, and participants will be required to take a short instructional course and turn in numbers of cormorants killed each season.

    For more information on this program, contact Derrell Shipes at shipesd@dnr.sc.gov.

    Brian Cope
    SC Sportsman Field Reporter
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