By Jenny Neyman
Invasive northern pike have been served with an eviction notice at Stormy Lake north of Nikiski, to be enforced this fall if the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s application for a pesticide use permit is approved by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Once pike are gone, native fish species will be invited back home.
The permit is up for public comment through 4 p.m. Feb. 23. Comments may be submitted by mail to Rebecca Colvin, 555 Cordova St., Anchorage, AK 99501. To view the application, visit www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/pest/publicnotice.htm. For more information, call 269-7802 or email Rebecca.Colvin@alaska.gov.
Fish and Game has prepared an environmental assessment on the Stormy Lake project, as well. To view that document, visit http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/species/nonnative/invasive/rotenone/pdfs/stormy_lake_ea.pdf. Comments on the environmental assessment may be submitted be email to email@example.com, by mail at 43961 K-Beach Road, Suite B Soldotna, AK 99669, or by calling Robert Massengill, fishery biologist, at 262‐9368.
If approved, Fish and Game plans to treat Stormy Lake with the pesticide Rotenone sometime in August or September. The lake would be closed to public access during the treatment and the following cleanup period, with signage warning people away from the water.
“Once treatment is completed, we would discourage drinking the water or swimming until the Rotenone fully deactivates, we’re anticipating two to six weeks after the treatment,” said Robert Massengill, fishery biologist with Fish and Game.
Pike are native to much of Alaska and many areas of the Lower 48, and as big, active, tough fish, they’re a lot of fun to catch. Anglers’ affinity for pike is thought to be the way they spread from their native range into Southcentral Alaska. Pike penetrated into Alaska from Russia when the state was still glaciated. They settled into regions north and west of the Alaska Range, where they don’t cause many problems. They evolved along with other fish species. The other species developed predator-avoidance abilities.
Pike are notoriously voracious eaters, preferring soft-finned salmonids, like salmon, Dolly Varden and rainbow trout, but also eat sticklebacks, leeches, insects or most anything else they can get their sharp, tooth-laden jaws around. They live in shallow, still, weedy water. In Bristol Bay, and other regions with native pike populations, the lakes tend to be large and deep. Pike stick close to shore while other fish, especially pike’s preferred meal of juvenile salmonids, can rear in deeper water. Continue reading