Earlier this week, the Soldotna City Council heard from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game about ongoing plans to remove pike from Soldotna area water bodies.
According to Fish and Game biologist Rob Massengill, Soldotna Creek will be treated with rotenone, a piscicide that kills fish by blocking their ability to use oxygen in their bloodstream. Lakes in the Soldotna Creek drainage already have been treated over the last two years, and treatment of Soldotna Creek should ensure no pike reach the Kenai River, where the voracious predators would have the potential to decimate salmon runs. Native fish, such as rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and juvenile coho salmon, have been “rescued” from Soldotna Creek and transplanted to previously treated East and West Mackey Lakes, Union Lake and Derks Lake.
We’re pleased to see the continued success of pike eradication efforts on the central Kenai Peninsula. Likewise, we’re glad that Fish and Game has been able to see this effort all the way through. Whether from an environmental, economic or quality of life perspective, restoring lakes and keeping pike from the Kenai River is a win.
Biologists also have gleaned a great deal of information regarding methods to combat invasive species throughout the process — knowledge that can be put to use in other parts of the state and in peninsula lakes still infested with pike.
A great deal of time, effort, expertise and funding has gone into combatting pike in peninsula water bodies. Now, the task of keeping those waters pike-free will fall to the community. According to Massengill, the public has been supportive of eradication efforts, and the vast majority of landowners along the affected water bodies have granted the agency access for the project.
And with a better understanding of how invasive species can affect an ecosystem, we’re hopeful that the public will be a good steward of the resource and continue the effort to keep Kenai Peninsula drainages pike-free in the future.