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July 08, 1998
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256
WDFW removes northern pike to protect native fish species
QUILCENE--Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists today
treated Crocker Lake in Jefferson County to kill a growing population of northern pike
that could threaten the state's salmon, steelhead and other native fish species.
The lake was treated with rotenone, a natural product derived from the root of a
South American plant. It is widely used as a garden pesticide. It does not affect
humans. No drinking water is drawn from Crocker Lake.
The lake will be posted at WDFW's boat ramp and no fishing will be allowed until
This marks the first time northern pike have been discovered in western
Washington. The pike apparently were imported to Washington by unknown persons
and placed in the lake several years ago contrary to state law. Non-native species
cannot be brought into Washington without a permit.
"We had to move swiftly when we found out about these pike," said Larry Peck,
WDFW's deputy director. "We didn't want them moved to other lakes nor did we want
them to leave Crocker Lake through an outlet to downstream creeks."
He noted that pike, which are voracious predators, already threaten coho and
chum salmon which use the lake. Summer chum salmon in the watershed already are
listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The pike are reproducing in
"These pike could severely impact ESA-listed populations of Puget Sound
chinook, bull trout, cutthroat trout and steelhead if they spread to other areas of the
state," Peck said.
He noted WDFW will take several steps to minimize the effect of the rotenone on
other fish and wildlife species. They include:
- Using a very low concentrate of rotenone
- Moving some bass and bluegill to nearby Leland Lake until they can be
returned to Crocker Lake
Peck said the treatment was timed when salmon populations are at their lowest
levels of the year and young wild animals have become mobile enough to leave the
- Treating lake water with potassium permangenate, which neutralizes rotenone,
at its outfall to Andrews and Snow creeks
Crocker Lake is expected to remain toxic to aquatic life for 10 to 14 days.
WDFW obtained the necessary Washington Department of Ecology permit for
the emergency action. The Attorney General's Office indicated the action complied with
the State Environmental Policy Act.
Crocker is a 65-acre natural lake near Highway 101 approximately 10 miles north