The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has come up with a new strategy to evict dozens of double-crested cormorants from an island on West Reservoir in the Portage Lakes to address the problems brought about by the birds.

The abundant droppings of the fish-eating birds have been giving people a problem. The highly acidic cormorant droppings have been killing off other vegetation in the area and the smell of the waste fouls the waters of Portage Lakes State Park's lakes triggering complaints from West Reservoir residents.

Initial attempts to drive away the goose-sized birds included scaring them off with loud noises before they can nest in the spring, but this proved unsuccessful. In a bid to get rid of the birds, state crews arrived by boat last month and used chain saws to remove about 30 small trees, half of which were either already dead or dying, that served as nesting grounds of a growing number of cormorants since 2005.

James Seikel, Portage Lakes State Park manager said that the decision to cut down the birds' nesting trees was made by the Portage Lakes State Park management as recommended by the Division of Wildlife. The effort resulted in the ouster of 160 cormorants.

The action, however, has fueled debate on social media with some individuals describing it as a cruel act that would cause the birds losing their home. Still, others were hopeful that the move would eventually resolve the problems brought about by the cormorants.

It is not yet clear where the cormorants would go after the trees they thrived in had been cut down but officials said the birds will likely proceed to a bigger island in the East Reservoir.

Geoff Westerfield, from the Division of Wildlife, said that the island is farther away from the houses in the shorelines so the problems associated with the birds could be put to a minimum. He added that the cormorants may not even be a problem there until their nests significantly increase, which is something that could take years to happen.

ODNR spokesperson Heidi Hetzel-Evans said that the agency is not taking lethal actions at the moment as there is optimism that with the trees gone; the long necked birds would spread across the region albeit it may take time before the state would know the success of its action.

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