U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2004


A survey of catfish producers by the United States Department of Agriculture, Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH) in 1996 indicated that the two primary sources of catfish losses in commercial operations were disease (45%) and wildlife (37%) (CEAH 1997a). A variety of avian and mammalian predators are amracred to aquaculture facilities in the United States (Parkhurs: er al. 1992) because ponds and open raceways provide a constant and readily accessible food supply for these animals. However, the mere presence of these predators arcund aquaculture faciliries does not necessarily mean that significant depredation problems are occurring. At catfish farms, three species or species groups of birds are primarily cited by catfish producers as causing most depredation problems (Wywialowski 1999). These include doublecrested cormorants, wading birds (herons and egrets), and American white pelicans, in order of importance to catfish producers (Wywialowski 1993). Although all of these species consume catfish, their biology, distribution, dietary preferences dictare the extent of depredation problems they cause and the approaches needed to alleviate their depredations. With the exception of total bird exclusion from ponds, there are no simple solutions for resolving all bird depredation problems in catfish aquaculture. Thus, in most cases, an integrated management approach to alleviating bird depredations must be considered.