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Governments join forces vs. northern pike in lake

 


Tribal, state and local governments have joined forces at Lake Roosevelt to combat the spread of northern pike, recently recorded just two dams away from critical Columbia River salmon habitat.

The lake’s co-managers at the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Spokane Tribe of Indians and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife worked alongside the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and public utility districts in Chelan and Grant Counties May 6-10 to catch northern pike in the largest coordinated suppression event of its kind.

“We are at a critical moment in time where northern pike have not spread into salmon habitat,” said Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “If northern pike move downstream, the State of Washington will consider this an environmental emergency. We need to work together to stop northern pike.”

Northern pike is a prohibited invasive species that preys on fish such as trout, salmon and steelhead, as well as other wildlife such as ducks and bats-and even on other northern pike. Since being illegally introduced in the 1990s, the species has spread down the Pend Oreille River into Lake Roosevelt. Moving down the Columbia River would put billions of dollars in salmon and steelhead recovery investments and tribal, sport and commercial fishing at risk. In Alaska and California, northern pike have reduced fish populations by as little as 10 percent to effectively crashing entire fisheries.

“Northern pike threaten years of progress to recover salmon,” said Phil Rockefeller, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “The same upper Columbia River tribes that lost access to salmon with the construction of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams are stepping forward as leaders in stopping northern pike. We applaud the upper Columbia River tribes and other partners for their work to stop northern pike and to keep the entire Columbia River safe for salmon.”

The week-long event builds on previous suppression work led by the Spokane and Colville Tribes, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We have been cooperatively working to slow or stop the spread of northern pike, but realize they are poised to continue downstream,” said Dr. Brent Nichols, division Ddirector of the Spokane Tribe’s Fisheries and Water Resource Division.

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