M’CHIGEENG—Anishinabek Grand Council Chief Glen Hare was fired up this past Monday, after reading an article in the November 30 edition of The Recorder on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) calling for public input into having a hunting season for cormorants in the province of Ontario, something he pointed out First Nations had lobbied for about 20-25 years ago and received no positive response from the province at the time.
“It is pretty sad and incredible to hear that now, after about 25 years since we lobbied for a cull on cormorants, that the province is looking for public input into having a hunting season for them,” said Grand Council Chief Hare. “It was in the early 1990s that cormorants had first come here; the ministry had brought these birds over here and it was at that time we called for a cull of cormorants or all our lakes would be without fish. We made a real stink about all this at the time and absolutely no action was taken at the time.”
“We were, and are, as First Nations 1,000 percent in support of having a cull of cormorants,” stated Grand Council Chief Hare. “They have done a lot, a tremendous amount of damage to the fishery over the past 25 years. But I find it interesting that now the MNRF is calling for a cull and there is no outcry. There certainly was when we proposed this 25 years ago.”
“No one likes these birds and what they have done to our fishery. Our First Nation leadership is in favour of a cull on these birds,” said Chief Hare. “That is because over the years they have been draining our lakes of fish.”
He noted, “I just came back from a big international meeting where mayors, reeves and chiefs around the Great Lakes talked about trying to protect our lakes and rivers. Then I came home to read this about the cormorants. At our meeting of all the reeves, mayors and chiefs, I suggested several things to the chair of the committee, one being that all leadership on the Great Lakes should be meeting at least once a year, before we have to look at taking issues to court. I suggested we sign a Friendship Treaty between First Nations and municipalities, similar to the once signed in the 1990s for Manitoulin, (the latter) which I think needs to be updated and signed again. This way we can be unified on issues like lobbying for cormorant culls. Let’s do it, not just talk about it.”
Chief Hare pointed out when the local First Nations voiced their feelings that a cull of cormorants needed to take place in area waters in the 1990s, “we had everyone—municipal politicians and the MNRF against this, but the majority of the public was on our side that a cull was needed. We all need to work together to protect our fish and lakes, and yes we need a cull of cormorants.”