September 30, 2022 |
Efforts to purge Saratoga Lake of invasive yellow perch continue.
Last week, Wyoming Game and Fish administered the toxin, rotenone, into Saratoga Lake to eliminate the invasive yellow perch that had, somehow, made their way into the water. Rotenone is a naturally derived substance used, specifically, to kill fish and other gill-breathing animals. Their goal is to remove all of the fish in the lake and start over.
Now that the kill-off has begun, questions arose about how many of the illegal fish were found.
Bobby Compton, a regional fisheries supervisor from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, wasn’t able to give an exact number, but said they found a lot.
How the yellow perch came to be in the lake remains under investigation. Speculation ranges from birds transporting them from nearby bodies of water to illegal stocking. Some have questioned whether fish eggs could have been used to seed the lake. Whether by man or bird, Compton said at least one mating pair of perch was introduced to the lake.
People bring in outside sport fish without thinking of the damage they will cause to the natural habitat. WGFD has to clean up the mess, sometimes having to resort to drastic measures like in this case. Compton said his team has had to face situations like this before.
Yellow perch are found in other areas of the state. Someone would have had to transport live fish from elsewhere and dump them into Saratoga Lake. Compton couldn’t rule that idea out.
Using rainbow trout as “canary fish,” Compton’s team will perform weekly checks to see if the rotenone has degraded. WGFD had planned for it to take about a month for the water to go back to normal. Compton said the canary fish showed the lake wasn’t there yet.
Compton said he believes most of the dead fish have been removed from the lake. The wind blows the fish toward the shore where Compton’s team can scoop them into buckets and bury them in pits along the eastern edge of the lake.
After the rotenone has completely subsided, and WGFD is sure that no more fish remain in the lake; they will begin restocking. Compton said they will begin the process next year.
The lack of fish in Saratoga Lake has forced the town to cancel its annual Ice Fishing Derby. Once the whole process is complete, anglers will be able to catch the usual white suckers, rainbow trout, and brown trout they expect.