Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

October 1993


Growing winter populations of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocoax auritus) over the past decade have caused serious depredation problems for commercial channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) growers in the Mississippi Delta (Stickley and Andrews 1989). Stickley et al. (1992) found that cormorants allowed to feed without hindrance took an average of 5 catfish fingerlings per foraging hour, but at times took as many as 28 fingerlings per hour. Obviously, growers have to repel these birds or suffer heavy losses where the cormorants are feeding on catfish fingerlings and not gizzard shad (Jorosoma Gredianum) as they at times do (Stickley et al. 1992). Motionless scare devices tend to reduce cormorant depredations only temporarily (Feare 1988, Littauer 1990). However, a pop-up inflatable effigy device (Fig. 1) known as “Scarey Man” ($595 available through R. Royal, P.O. Box 108, Midnight, MS 39115)1 proved to be effective in reducing cormorant numbers on catfish ponds in 4 separate tests that ranged in length from 10 to 19 days. Cormorant numbers were reduced 71, 93, 95 and 99%, respectively, from pretreatment levels in these tests conducted in early 1991 in the Mississippi Delta (Stickley, pers. comm.). Success in these short-term tests prompted a longer term trial of Scarey Man. This paper describes such a trial conducted in the Mississippi Delta in early 1992.