October 31, 2009
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A Scary Halloween Story
Invasive species are a horror story that haunt us year round and will continue to scare us for years to come. Unfortunately, the fun horror we associate with Halloween is not the same as the scary truth of invasives. Every month we run stories of how invasives are harming our ecology, our economy and our recreations but we rarely talk about the actual threat to human life. While recently teaching a group of middle school children about the threats from invasives I showed them the photo of a child struggling through aquatic weeds. This immediately brought the question "Do people actually drown after getting tangled in the weeds?"
A search of information available about Eurasian milfoil shows that it is commonly reported that people drown after becoming trapped in the vegetation. Almost every news story that describes the threat of milfoil invasion states that people commonly drown in this way. It seems that the truth is there have been documented cases of people drowning from getting entangled.
Perhaps the best documented story is of Martin Tello of Royal City, WA who drowned while trying to rescue a 10 year old boy who had become entrapped in the weeds. Tello and another man jumped into Red Rock Lake in an attempt to save the boy. Both men immediately became entangled and only an heroic rescue effort allowed one to survive. Tello had become so tangled in the weeds that it took five divers to disentangle his body for recovery. Read the full story of this drowning caused by milfoil. The tragic story of this drowning is not the only one attributed to Eurasian milfoil but it is the best documented with no dispute that the only factor was the entrapment. However, there are other reliable reports including this story of a Columbia River drowning attributed to invasive milfoil.
We can only hope that there will never be another drowning caused by invasives but we have to recognize that as the problem spreads it is likely that we will see more loss of life directly attributable to invasive species impacts. Lets all do what we can to make sure we are no the ones spreadiong invaders. Inspect, Clean and Dry after every trip!
When Will We Learn?
Thousands of salmon escape from B.C.’s largest farm tells the story of the escape of 40,000 adult Atlantic salmon from a British Columbia fish farm. For years, anglers and biologists have worried about the potential impact that introduced Atlantic salmon could have on the already hard hit Pacific wild salmon populations. Atlantic salmon evolved in the Atlantic and, in my opinion, that is where they should have stayed. Unfortunately, there are always those who believe that the pursuit of the dollar is the most important factor and they have managed to convince officials that massive scale fish farming of Atlantic salmon on our Pacific coast creates jobs and poses no risk to the native fish populations.
To me the most offensive part of this entire story is the response of the company that allowed this to happen. According to Clare Backman of Marine Harvest Canada "We don’t like to see this happen, If you lose too many fish, people lose their jobs” at the processing plants.
So there you have it neatly summed up. The company believes that the problem is the loss of a few cannery jobs and, of course, corporate profits. It seems they don't believe that the potential devastation of our Pacific salmon populations really matters. After all, according to Backman, “They’re really beautiful fish. Anybody who intercepts them out there, there are no restrictions on enjoying them.”
Alaska Battles Invasive Pike
Northern pike are a valuable sport fish that are the object of many anglers' dreams. However, biologists have long known that when they are introduced to non-native waters the predatory pike can quickly eliminate native species. Unfortunately, some people believe that heir desire to fish for pike outweighs the needs of the resource and these few bad angers are moving pike across the western US, introducing them to waters where they create great havoc. Perhaps the most famous pike invaded water is California's Davis Lake where pike eradication projects have received tremendous attention.
Fishery biologists in Alaska have long know about pike invasions and they realize that pike are capable of having a serious impact on the native fish of the state. According to Robert Begich, the sportfish area management biologist for Fish and Game in Soldotna, "The major threats to Pacific salmon in North America are one, habitat loss, and two, invasive species. We're lucky here on the peninsula to have our ecosystem largely intact. We can't afford to have pike." Begich recently carried out a pike removal on Scout Lake a popular Kenai Peninsula fishing water. Begich hopes that all of the pike will be eliminated in which case restocking of trout will begin next summer.
Invasive Algae Decimates Creek
Until recently, West Virginia's Dunkard Creek was teeming with life – with more than 160 species of fish, mussels, salamanders and crayfish. But in September, a massive fish kill eliminated nearly every living thing in this creek, which winds 38 miles back and forth across the Mason-Dixon Line. Regulators blame the fish kill on a bloom of toxic golden algae fueled by pollution from nearby coalmines and gas drilling sites.
Golden algae have been found in Southern and Southwestern states, and are typically found in freshwater areas with a high salt content. Officials don't know how the invasive algae got into Dunkard Creek, but believe it flourished because of massive amounts of salty pollution from coalmines and gas drilling.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Erica Peterson has prepared an excellent broadcast about this new invasion for the radio program Living on Earth". Listen to, or download Perfect Storm for Fish Kill If you prefer to read the story they have a complete transcript at the same location.
Thanks to Leah Elwell at the Federation of Fly Fishers for sending us this. If you here of stories that you would like to share please let us know.
Quick Hits - Stories of interest
Deadly fish disease could spread into upper Deschutes Basin A report this month from scientists at Oregon State University's Center for Fish Disease Research says whirling disease now has a permanent foot hold in the Lower Deschutes River. The report warns that a multi-million dollar effort to reintroduce salmon to the upper Deschutes Basin could spread the deadly disease.
Didymo discovered and studied in Canada The University of Calgary and Parks Canada are studying Didymo and how it effects food for trout. Leland Jackson, professor and associate head of graduate studies in the department of biological sciences, recently discovered "Didymo" when he was conducting research on the Red Deer, Oldman and Bow Rivers.
Boaters split on success of Idaho invasive program Idaho's fledgling invasive species program, funded through stickers required for almost every watercraft in the state, raised more than $776,000 this summer to pay for boat inspections, educational outreach and other efforts. There is a mixed reaction to the results achieved through this program.
A controversial world record invasive catch Perhaps the most cherished and sought world record fish is the largemouth bass and it is likely that the recent catch of a 22-pound 4.97 ounce whopper in Japan will set the new record. However, the fish has stirred up emotions in Japan where the invasive bass are targeted for elimination by government agencies. In fact, in most areas it is illegal to release a live bass and the laws are enforced with still fines.
New Oregon Boat Fees Take Effect About 102,000 Oregon boat owners can expect next week to receive renewal notices for their motor boat registrations, and they will be the first ones to pay the new $5 fee to combat invasive species. Created by the Oregon Legislature earlier this year, the new permit will raise part of roughly $2 million a year that the Marine Board expects to put toward an elevated effort to keep non-native plants, fish and other species from reaching Oregon.
Group asks county to help protect Idaho's Henry's Lake Three passionate anglers met recently with the Fremont County Commission to seek the county's support for their organization's efforts to keep quagga and zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil from Henry's Lake. "It's the crown jewel," Henry's Lake Foundation board member Ron Slocum said of the lake. "It's the finest big trout lake fishery in the West. It's an incredible fishery. We can't afford to fail on this one because once we fail, we're in trouble."
L.L. Bean Gray Ghost Wading Boot Review Zach Matthews at MidCurrent.com has field tested these new felt free wading boots. He gave them a unique type of test by wearing them on a 9-mile, two day hike. Read his opinions of this new entry into the felt-free market.
Visit the Clean Angling Store
Be sure to visit the Clean Angling Store and see the products we have that let you show your support. When you buy something from the store you show others that you have committed to doing your best to protect our waters from invaders and we will make a small profit that will help us to continue to do our work.