WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

July 08, 1998
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

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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 September.

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 Crocker Lake.

"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
  • Treating lake water with potassium permangenate, which neutralizes rotenone, at its outfall to Andrews and Snow creeks
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 lake.

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 of Quilcene.