State’s effort to poison lake appears to be successful | SierraSun.com

State’s effort to poison lake appears to be successful

PORTOLA, Calif. (AP) ” Electric shocks, steel traps and explosives couldn’t do it. But California wildlife officials say 16,000 gallons of poison appears to have successfully exterminated the northern pike.

Department of Fish and Game officers say that game wardens dumping barrels of fish poison into scenic Lake Davis in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains last week had the intended effect of killing off the murderous fish.

Some 41,000 pounds of dead fish have floated to the top of the lake in the last seven days. On Tuesday, if there was any thing left still alive and swimming, it wasn’t immediately obvious to those bagging up dead fish along the scenic reservoir.

“No one wants chemicals dumped in their lake to kill fish and we don’t like doing it, but you have to look at the big picture,” said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game. “It’s something we needed to do and we gave it our best shot.”

Northern pike ” which wildlife experts believe were carried to Lake Davis by anglers from the Midwest or Great Lakes in the 1980s ” decimated the lake’s famous trophy trout and tourist industry. Biologists in recent years have grown increasingly concerned that if the pike escaped the lake, they would also devastate California’s weakened salmon and steelhead populations.

California first poisoned Lake Davis in 1997 but the pike reappeared. This time, wildlife officials used a new potent formula of liquid Rotenone, an aquatic insecticide that has successfully killed northern pike in other reservoirs. They also have mapped out the area with global positioning technology, Martarano said.

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Wildlife officials plan to begin repopulating the lake with nearly 900,000 trout this fall, after the 45 days needed for the compounds in Rotenone to degrade naturally.

The state has spent about $20 million on pike eradication efforts around Portola since the fish were first discovered. The latest effort is expected to cost up to $16 million.

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On the Net:

Department of Fish and Game: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lakedavis