Black cormorant numbers down in Denmark after sustained control measures

The black cormorant, a species of bird which has caused consternation amongst Danish fishermen, has reduced in population size in recent years.

Black cormorant numbers down in Denmark after sustained control measures
Photo: Kristian Djurhuus/Ritzau Scanpix

According to a Danish Ornithological Society (DOF) press release, there were 31,605 breeding pair of the bird in the country in 2018, a reduction of five percent.

The figures were provided by Aarhus University and the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE).

Measures have been taken to reduce the size of the cormorant population in recent years, something that must now be adjusted, DOF said.

“We think the cormorant control should be adjusted given that the population has been significantly reduced over several years and is a lot low than it was 10-15 years ago,” biologist Knud Flensted, who represents DOF on a Ministry of the Environment and Food consultation panel, said.

13 percent of nests were regulated so that no eggs hatched during this year’s season corresponding to 4,249 nests at 18 colonies. Eggs are covered with oil, preventing chicks from hatching or gestating, Flensted said.

The species of bird is considered a pest by fishermen because it eats protected and threatened wild salmon.

The bird has also thrived more in some parts of Denmark than others. In western and southern Jutland in particular, numbers have decreased.

Although Flensted said that the population had been controlled particularly keenly in those areas, DCE researcher Thomas Bregnballe noted that geographical variations were primarily due to differing prevalence of feed in different seas.

An increase in white-tailed eagle numbers in southeastern Denmark may also be related to the fallback in cormorants here, Bregnballe added.

READ ALSO: 'Three million' birds flew from Denmark since 1970s: report


Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature

A Danish environmental organization has received a positive political response over a proposal to ensure 30 percent of Denmark be reserved for nature.

Why 30 percent of Denmark could be left to nature
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation (Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, DN) wants the country’s nature to be written into law by way of an obligation to ensure 30 percent of Danish land to be nature reserve by 2031, DR reports.

The proposal was made as government politicians met at Marienborg, the official residence of the prime minister, on Monday for talks on biodiversity.

The concept of such a ‘biodiversity law’, which would place binding targets for Denmark on the area, was initially positively received.

The interest organization for the agriculture sector, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, has said it also supports biodiversity goals, while environment minister Lea Wermelin said she would listen to suggestions regarding both targets and legislation.

“Fundamentally, the biggest task right now is to reverse nature’s decline and ensure that over 2,000 species threatened by extinction get a helping hand and the chance to remain in Denmark,” DN president Maria Reumert Gjerding said to DR.

“So it’s crucial that politicians make commitments to nature targets,” she added.

The Marienborg meeting is the beginning of government work to implement a ‘package’ of laws on nature and biodiversity, which the Social Democratic government promised prior to the June general election.

Wermelin said action must be taken to prevent Denmark from entering a “natural crisis”.

“We are genuinely interested in a new process to form a long-term plan for Denmark’s nature. Although reports paint a bleak picture, they also say it’s possible to set a new, green direction,” she added.

The minister welcomed “specific ideas and wishes” from environmental organizations that could help in making such a plan, DR reports.

Although only 0.4 percent of the area of Denmark is currently wild nature, DN says the target could be reached by buying or renting land from landowners and leaving it to nature, as well as by ensuring a specified amount of agricultural land actively benefits biodiversity.

READ ALSO: Here are Denmark's 15 most beautiful natural areas