Gallagher Urges Study on Pilot Island Cormorant Impact on Fish

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay) wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to study the impact that double-crested cormorants and white pelicans are having on yellow perch and the sportfishing populations in federal waters adjacent to Washington Island, Pilot Island and northern Door County.

Gallagher’s request was outlined in a March 24 letter that he sent to the chair and ranking member of the Congressional Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, taking into consideration concerns expressed by area residents related to the effect that colonies of cormorants are having on the local economies and Pilot Island.

“I have heard from numerous constituents who are disappointed with the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service’s decisions to allow cormorants to proliferate in Door County and nest unrestricted on Pilot Island,” he wrote. 

Gallagher further stated that human-health concerns related to the amount of guano produced by cormorants on Pilot Island, which is closed to the public to protect the nesting areas, compound the difficulty for contractors to make repairs to the island’s lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

His letter comes not long after members of the Washington Island Sportsman’s Club met March 1 with USFWS project manager Bill Peterson, who oversees the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and expressed their dissatisfaction with the federal agency’s management of Pilot Island as a migratory bird nesting area.

As part of putting together the fiscal year 2024 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, Gallagher wants to direct the USFWS to collaborate with other state and federal agencies on a study, as well as review the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan, to determine whether the USFWS’s management of cormorants is compatible with fish rehabilitation.