Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lake Davis Pike (Invasive Part Two)

This just seems to be getting worse and worse.

Calif. hopes to hook lake's pike problem
By John Ritter, USA TODAY

PORTOLA, Calif. — Outside this community in the eastern Sierra Nevada lies one of the West's great trout lakes. At least it was until northern pike, a voracious consumer of trout, invaded and then defied costly efforts to eradicate it.

The pike so thoroughly infested Lake Davis that state wildlife managers poisoned the water 10 years ago and killed all the fish, including the lake's trophy-sized trout. Other lakes around the country have gotten similar treatments, but never before was a town's water supply poisoned.

Health concerns and bitter protests marked that nine-month ordeal in 1997-98. Word spread in the trout world: avoid Lake Davis. Tourism and local businesses suffered. But trout came back in abundance after the state restocked the lake with one million fish. And, in 1999, so did pike.

Now, eight years later, the state wants to poison Lake Davis again, vowing to do the job right.

"Hopefully it'll work this time," says Tammy Milvey, owner of Gold Rush Sporting Goods, who depends on fishermen and campers for 85% of her business. "I don't know if the community, the businesses, can handle another failure."

Milvey got $33,000 from a $9.1 million settlement approved by the California Legislature in 1998 after what wildlife officials concede was a botched effort to get rid of the pike. It wasn't enough, she says. "We're all losing now. People are just not coming to the lake," she says. "Where do we get compensated for our losses now. I'm just barely paying the bills."

Pike not only could destroy the lake's trout but also migrate into waterways draining into the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta above San Francisco Bay, threatening California's $2 billion-a-year salmon industry, says Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the state Fish and Game Department.