LETTER: When to endorse the culling of cormorants

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The Independent Online
Sir: The RSPB makes it clear that it will not flinch from endorsing the killing of cormorants, as part of a properly formulated scheme for scaring the birds away, should serious damage be proved. This has not been the case in the incidents which you report (8 April).

At the British Trust for Ornithology we are undertaking a contract for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of the Environment and the National Rivers Authority to do part of the basic research on these birds. Has there been an invasion of the southern race sinensis, which is globally rather rare, into Britain to displace our traditional carbo birds? If they have come in are their habits different - in particular are they more likely to fish inland? What are the populations of breeding cormorants doing at the moment?

Your article mentioned an impossible increase in the cormorant colony at Abberton Reservoir in Essex. The breeding birds there have increased apace but the number of pairs there last year was 507. In 1990 there were 356 pairs present and not 19,000.

Chris Mead

British Trust for


Hilborough, Norfolk