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Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit: Cormorant Refuge in the midst of an international slaughter

by Ainslie Willock, Cormorant Defenders International (CDI)

Over a period of five years, more than 171,000 cormorants have been killed and far too many have been wounded in a North American-wide government sanctioned massive and cruel cull.

Tommy Thompson Park, simply known as the “The Spit” to Torontonians, is the home of the largest colony of double-crested cormorants on the Great Lakes.  The Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA), who manages the Spit, has chosen a responsible and thoughtful approach to managing the colony.  Their 2009 management goal is to "achieve a balance between the continued existence of a healthy, thriving cormorant colony and the other ecological, educational, scientific and recreational values of Tommy Thompson Park". 

The specific objectives of the strategy are to: a) Increase public knowledge, awareness and appreciation of colonial waterbirds, b) Deter cormorants from nesting on Peninsula D, c) Limit further loss of the tree canopy on the peninsulas beyond the existing cormorant colonies, and D) Continue research on colonial waterbirds in an urban wilderness context.  The TRCA will encourage the birds to move from tree nesting to ground nesting, plant trees and shrubs that cormorants don’t usually nest in and use an increase in human presence on Peninsula D to prevent cormorants from nesting there (the Aquatic Park Sailing Club is nearby).  This approach worked well last year.


While we would like to see the Spit and the colony naturally evolve with no human interference, CDI is very appreciative that the TRCA formed a Cormorant Advisory Group (Earthroots, Zoocheck, and CDI are members) to do simply that; give them advice on cormorant management.  You can see their full plans for 2009 by clicking here (pages 14-34 - the Escalation of Deterrence Techniques is found on page 32).

The Spits’ annual Spring Bird Festival is on Saturday, May 23, 2009 – please go and enjoy the cormorant colony and tell them how much you appreciate TRCA respecting cormorants as part of an urban wilderness!  For more information, please click here.

We will continue to advise on cormorant management at the Spit and we’re getting ready to monitor culls – likely at Presqu’ile Provincial Park’s High Bluff Island and Point Pelee National Park’s Middle Island.  There is no reasonable reason to kill cormorants.  The use of taxpayer’s money to fund these government shooting sprees is offensive and wasteful.  Please contact the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and the Premier and tell them that you don’t want your precious tax dollars to be used to persecute these birds.