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    While the Nordics are known for their love of nature, their eco-mindedness sometimes backfires. Snowballing cormorant populations have been previously identified as a hazard to the Baltic maritime environment and wildlife. Today, a Finnish city claims cormorant flocks to pose a hazard to flight safety.

    The Finnish city of Vaasa has applied for permission to scare off 500 cormorants from a nearby bay which lies in close proximity to the local airport. The number of nesting cormorants has been increasing in recent years and the situation is said to have reached a state of emergency.

    Vaasa airport is located only about five kilometers east of the colony, which is no distance at all for the wandering cormorants in search of food, Vaasa City environmental director Christer Hangelin told Finnish national broadcaster Yle.

    ​According to Vaasa airport director Pekka Lampi, it is not uncommon for airports to shoo birds away to provide air security.

    "Bird control is normal at all airports across the world, also in Finland," Pekka Lampi said to calm down Finnish bird-lovers. "As a preventive measure, we support the idea of taking active steps against certain bird species near the airport," he said, adding that birds' main migration routes over Ostrobothnia do not constitute a specific hazard to air traffic.

    However, the impact from the prolific cormorant colonies goes much far than compromising air traffic. Caustic cormorant droppings have been noted for destroying forests on nearby islands and have significantly worsened water quality on local beaches. The classification of water fell from "excellent" to "good," while bathers started complaining about strange odors.

    "There is no question of shooting birds or destroying eggs, instead we simply want to scare them away. There will be no strong action," Christer Hangelin told Yle. According to the plan, experts would visit the islands the cormorants had taken fancy to several times per day in order to make the territory appear populated and scare the intruders away.

    Cormorant populations in the Baltic Sea Region were previously identified as a major environmental threat by Turku University, Finland. Corrosive cormorant droppings increase the eutrophication process of the sea as well, turning the Baltic archipelagos into a barren wasteland, where nothing grows and lives.

    However, efforts to scare off the messy intruders have attracted substantial criticism for simply moving the problem. However, bird-loving Finns are only allowed to resort to extreme measures, such as shooting the winged intruders in case of emergency, which barely affects the fertile cormorant population at all.

    All the Baltic-Nordic nations are suffering from the cormorant problem. Researcher Maria Ovegård from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences recently found cormorants to rival for fish stocks in the Baltic, "outfishing" humans for sea bass and carp, Yle reported. Cormorants were also found to endanger several endemic fish species.

    At present, opinions are strongly divided when it comes to measures against the cormorant problem. For instance, Denmark, where many cormorant populations spend the winter, resorts to shooting and destroying nests and eggs. In Finland, the Ostrobothnia Fishermen's Association does not believe in intimidation as a method for overcoming the cormorant problem and would rather see hunting and the puncturing of eggs as a way to curb the cormorant population. Still, this is impossible by Finnish law. In In Norway, however, the cormorant is a traditional game bird. Each year thousands of cormorants are shot to be eaten.

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    birds, environment, Scandinavia, Baltic Sea, Finland
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