Northern pike, the voracious predator fish that has turned up in several central Kenai Peninsula lakes in recent years, has now been found in northern reaches of the borough.
“The threat to the Swanson River is real,” Department of Fish and Game fishery biologist Rob Massengill told the borough assembly Tuesday night.
“We have found pike in Stormy Lake (in Nikiski),” he said, a lake that drains into the Swanson.
Pike, which feed on soft-finned fish, are capable of wiping out stocks of coho salmon, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden in a few short years, he said.
Massengill told the assembly his department believes northern pike are in seven of eight lakes in the Soldotna Creek drainage; a total of 17 lakes on the peninsula; and in the Kenai and Moose rivers.
Pike are indigenous to Alaska, but they are not native to the Kenai Peninsula. Fish and Game believes they were first introduced illegally to Derks Lake near Mackey Lakes in Soldotna in the 1970s.
Massengill said because pike are not native to this area, other fish have not had thousands of years to adapt and be able to coexist with pike as they have elsewhere.
He said that although pike have been caught in the Kenai and Moose rivers, critical salmon spawning areas, a reproducing population has not yet been confirmed in the rivers.
Among methods used by Fish and Game to control pike are erecting structures such as hoop nets to prevent movement into new areas, and intensive netting efforts in some lakes.
Biologists have not yet resorted to chemical treatment, as has been successful in other parts of the country, according to Massengill.
Assembly member Margaret Gillman asked how lakes could be treated to eliminate northern pike without killing other fish.
The chemicals that have been used successfully do kill all fish, Massengill said.
“If we do try chemically treating, we would do one of our land-locked lakes,” he said.
In other business, the assembly:
· Approved asking voters in October if the borough should issue up to $2,588,000 in general obligation bonds for educational capital improvements;
· Enacted an ordinance removing the Sept. 30 expiration date for a measure giving the borough transportation funding powers;
· Postponed naming a lake five miles south of Soldotna “Pula Lake.” Assembly member Milli Martin suggested it would best serve residents around the lake if they were officially notified of the proposed change. The measure was postponed until Sept. 19.
The assembly also recognized the 9- and 10-year-old Soldotna Little League team, which won the state championship in July with an undefeated record.
Assembly member Grace Merkes, who presented certificates to each member of the team and their coaches, said, “Under the direction of Manager Brian Miller, along with Coach Mark Fowler, the clinching victory over the Abbott-O-Rabbit Nationals was achieved by a score of 12 to 6.”
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