Stormy Lake pike getting attention, input

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011

Solutions to address invasive northern pike in Stormy Lake range from doing nothing to a $3.8 million drain job, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game fishery biologist Robert Massengill.

Photo Courtesy Alaska Department Of Fish And Game
Photo Courtesy Alaska Department Of Fish And Game
In this undated photo, Jerry Strait of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game displays a pike caught in Stormy Lake in Captain Cook State Recreation Area. Fish and Game is considering options for eradicating invasive pike in the lake.

Fish and Game is in the process of submitting a solution to the northern pike infestation of Stormy Lake, which is located in Captain Cook State Recreation Area north of Nikiski. Four meetings have been hosted to educate the public how the problem can be solved and to collect input from the community.

Pike are an invasive species on the Peninsula, and according to Fish and Game, can "severely alter aquatic ecosystems." The pike problem has been an issue since the 1970s when they were illegally introduced into Kenai Peninsula waters. One female pike can lay around 200,000 eggs, Massengill said.

Fish and Game had help mediating these meetings from USKH. Sara Wilson Doyle has been working with communities as a land use planner, and does public involvement to facilitate meetings between scientists and biologists and community members.

Massengill has been leading the presentations on the topic and says a plan could be proposed in "a month or two" after the information is collected and the Fish and Game can decide which option would be the most successful. Although a proposal is near, action will not start until next year.

Doyle said Massengill's presentation is a key asset in trying to understand the pike situation in Stormy Lake.

"His presentation really lays out all the concerns, all the options, where things are right now," Doyle said.

"There's no silver bullet," Massengill said during a presentation this week. "They all have good points and bad points."

Massengill said there are two options that would be preferable: draining the lake or using a chemical treatment called Rotenone, which would be the cheapest option at $250,000. Rotenone is a chemical used for fish populations and is non-toxic to mammals or birds, especially at the low doses that will be used in the lake.

There tends to be more diversity and more aquatic invertebrates a year or two later after Rotenone treatment, because you've killed a lot of fish, but it's served as sort of a fertilizer for the lakes, Massengill said.

The four meetings have served as a forum to hear concerns or comments residents may have on the topic. Some concerns were made about muskrats, snails and clams around the lake, and if the public access to the lake would be closed during this process because of the harmful chemicals. Massengill responded by saying the chemical is not a threat and the other species of fish in the lake will be transported to ensure their safety.

A proposal is expected within the next couple of months.

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