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Pike Suppression Efforts, Costs To Rise As Managers Fight To Keep Fish From ‘Anadromous Zone'
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2018 (PST)

The cost to remove invasive northern pike in Lake Roosevelt will likely rise to more than $1 million per year beginning next fiscal year and much of that will be funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.

 

The voracious fish was initially discovered in 2009 in the upper reaches of the lake that backs up behind Grand Coulee Dam and, by 2015, anglers were catching the fish in the shallow bays near Kettle Falls and the Kettle Falls River.

 

Today biologists and policymakers worry they will spread into the lower reaches of the lake and, eventually, downstream into the mainstem Columbia River where they would pose a threat to the recovery of salmon and steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

 

To illustrate a pike’s predation abilities, one 21.6 pound Northern Pike female caught during suppression efforts in the lake had two undigested fish in its belly – a 19-inch burbot and a 16 inch walleye – according to Holly McLellan of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, one of three co-managers participating in a pike suppression effort. The other two managers are the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

McLellan spoke to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee in Boise, Tuesday, May 8.

 

“Fish can’t escape pike, but they can escape bass and walleye,” McLellan said, explaining why pike are far worse than other predators in the lake.

 

The tribes took extraordinary measures this year to keep suppression funding up at 2017 levels by repurposing BPA funds initially awarded for redband trout and white sturgeon research into their pike suppression program.

 

Some 4,771 pike were removed as a result of the pike suppression program in 2017: 100 were removed by Fyke netting, 102 with beach seines, 633 through electrofishing, 1,095 through an angler rewards program and 2,841 with gillnets. Some 701 pike have been removed so far in 2018.

 

In fiscal year 2018, the budget for pike suppression in the lake is about $630,000, just a little higher than FY2017. Some 82 percent of that budget goes directly to suppression, while 17 percent goes to research and monitoring and 1 percent to public outreach. Funding in 2015 was about $100,000 and about $150,000 in 2016, according to information provided by McLellan.

 

Beginning next year, the co-managers’ budget, if approved and funded, will rise to about $1.3 million and will remain at that level through 2022. The proposed five-year budget, including FY2018, is $4,505,442 with an average annual budget of $901,088. Nearly two-thirds of next year’s funding would come either directly through BPA, or through BPA funds going to the Colville Tribes or through WDFW.

 

A recent Independent Scientific Review Panel review of the co-managers’ proposal for FY2018 – 2022 found that the proposal meets scientific review criteria with qualifications. However, the ISRP also noted that it has doubts the efforts to suppress northern pike in the Columbia River basin could ever be fully successful, especially given current efforts.

 

The ISRP performs scientific reviews of projects and proposals related to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

The ISRP review, completed April 23, 2018 (https://www.nwcouncil.org/media/7491656/isrp-2018-03-npikelkrsvltresprev23april.pdf), said of the Lake Roosevelt suppression project that by its design, it “could quickly and significantly change the abundance of northern pike, as well as our knowledge of their status.

 

At this week’s meeting, the Fish and Wildlife Committee agreed to support the co-managers’ 2018 – 2022 proposal, pending regional funding.

 

“Based on the ISRP review and history surrounding the urgent need to get a better understanding of the control and suppression of northern pike in Lake Roosevelt, Council staff recommends that the Fish and Wildlife Committee support this project for implementation,” a Council memorandum said (https://www.nwcouncil.org/media/7491677/f3.pdf). “This recommendation is conditioned on funds being secured from the region to meet the proposal goals and objectives.”

 

“In some ways we have the cart and horse not lined up,” Tony Grover, director of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife group, said of the funding situation. Although he and staff support the co-managers’ suppression proposal, the funding package has yet to be put in place. He said one of the decisions still to be made is how much funding for the suppression project would come from cost savings.

 

He continued saying that the mid-Columbia River public utility districts know this is a shared problem and may also have some funding.

 

“The PUD’s license with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) calls for no-net impact on fish, so they can’t have excessive predation,” Grover said. “If that happens they have a huge problem.”

 

The Colville Tribes already have contracts with Grant and Chelan PUDs, McLellan said.

 

Pike would have a drastic impact if they get into the “anadromous zone” downstream and the cost would increase significantly, Washington Council Member Guy Norman said. He compared the pike situation in Lake Roosevelt with the pinniped problem downstream of Bonneville Dam. Action moved slowly, he said, and the costs increased over time.

 

Also see:

 

--CBB, April 27, 2018, “Scientists Express Skepticism About Stopping Lake Roosevelt Northern Pike From Spreading Downstream,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440613.aspx.

 

--CBB, February 16, 2018, “Scientists Want More Detailed Information On Northern Pike Suppression Plan In Lake Roosevelt,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440224.aspx

 

--CBB, July 21, 2017, “Lake Roosevelt Northern Pike Numbers Rise; ‘Chronic Recruitment, Exponential Growth’,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439314.aspx

 

-- CBB, June 23, 2017, “Invasive Northern Pike Spreading In Lake Roosevelt; Tribe Seeks Funds To Expand Removal Efforts,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439148.aspx

 

--CBB, September 23, 2016, “Council OKs More Funds For Fighting Pike Invasion: ‘Pike Pose Enormous Threat To Salmon, Steelhead,'” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437602.aspx

 

-- CBB, January 15, 2016, “Council Considers More Money For Pike Removal: ‘An Alarming Increase In Pike Abundance,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/435860.aspx

 

-- CBB, Nov. 19, 2015, “A Northern Pike Caught In John Day Reservoir: For Salmon, Canary In The Coal Mine?” http://www.cbbulletin.com/435580.aspx

 

-- CBB, July 17, 2015, “Invasive Northern Pike Spreading Further, Reproducing; Council Hears Information On States’ Policies,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/434535.aspx

 

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