Reports & Publications

Double-Crested Cormorants

Double-crested cormorants, Phalcrocorax auritus, qualify for protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations. The migratory bird species protected by the Act are listed in 50 CFR 10.13.

UPDATE: As part of ongoing efforts to address conflicts between double-crested cormorants and wild and stocked fisheries, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), and intention to prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended.

Public scoping for the rulemaking process began with the publication of the ANPR in the Federal Register on January 22, 2020, and will continue for 45 days until March 9, 2020.

Please visit our  special website for more information about this process.

Follow links below to register for public scoping webinars, scheduled for February 11 and 12.

 When: Feb 11, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
 When: Feb 11, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
 When: Feb 12, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
 When: Feb 12, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. If you cannot attend the live webinars, we encourage you to view a recorded webinar and then submit your comments  here. Please check back soon for more updates on the scoping process.

To meet increased needs at aquaculture facilities, we are increasing the annual maximum allowable take of double-crested cormorants through individual depredation permits from 51,571 to 74,396 per year. This level of authorized take will maintain a stable cormorant population at levels as considered current in the 2017 Environmental Assessment.

We will ensure cormorants are managed responsibly and in compliance with federal laws and regulations while balancing economic development, human health and safety, endangered species management and other priorities. We will assess cormorant survey data and update the PTL at least every 10 years, and publish a notice in the Federal Register if we determine take of double-crested cormorants should be changed again.

 Federal Register notice

To learn more about obtaining a permit, please contact your  regional permit office.
 Depredation permit


On November 14, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the completion of an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI), which addresses the potential impacts of issuing individual permits for the annual take (i.e., lethal removal) of up to 51,571 double-crested cormorants, across 37 central and eastern States and the District of Columbia. The scope of the EA is to issue permits to manage cormorant damage at aquaculture facilities, protect human health and safety, protect threatened and endangered wildlife, and alleviate damage to property.

The EA serves as a framework for the Service to make timely decisions on individual depredation permit applications submitted pursuant to 50 CFR 21.41 for the lethal take of cormorants. Based on the scope and environmental consequences identified in the EA, the Service will evaluate each permit application that we receive on an individual basis. We will also conduct a tiered review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and produce a finding identifying whether any additional actions or assessments are needed.

 Cormorant environmental assessment (EA) (1007.5KB)

 Cormorant finding of no significant impact (FONSI) (117.1KB)

 Federal Register notice

 News Bulletin

Since the EA was published in 2017, the Service has engaged state fish and wildlife agencies, tribes and other federal partners in addressing the cormorant-fish conflict, highlighted by four workshops in August, 2018.

The objectives of the workshops were to: (1) gather available information and data regarding the impacts cormorants have on free-swimming fish populations; (2) better understand the scope and magnitude of cormorant impacts on recreational and commercial fishing; (3) better understand the social and economic importance of the issue; and (4) serve as a model process for addressing avian predation conflicts with other species.

A report summarizing the outcome of these workshops was released in March 2019, and is available below. The Service will continue to build a solid foundation for any science-based management options to sustainably manage cormorant populations while reducing conflicts with free-swimming fish.

 Double-crested Cormorants and Free Swimming Fish Meeting Summary (2.9MB)

Last Updated: February 7, 2020