By SCOTT SONNER
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Nevada video game wardens who invest most of their time hunting down big-game poachers are focusing on a major hazard to nature in a lake: An invasive fish types that consumes all the other fish valued by anglers then turns cannibalistic.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife is using a $10,000 benefit to assist catch the offender who apparently disposed Northern pike in Comins Lake, a popular fishing area surrounded by mountains near Terrific Basin National Park.
By all accounts, Comins Lake was well on its way to recovery after the state restocked the fishery with largemouth bass, brown and rainbow trout in 2015.
But the invading Northern Pike were discovered once again last month by an angler who captured one and called state wildlife officials. Five more have actually been verified ever since.
“This malicious and illegal act seriously endangers our effort to restore this essential fishery,” stated Jon Sjoberg, chief of fisheries for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Individuals illegally presenting pike are damaging a fishery, not developing a new one.”
Chief Video game Warden Tyler Turnipseed announced the reward this week.
“We intend to find who did it,” he said.
Northern pike may not sound as scary as piranhas or the Asian swamp eel – two of the other half-dozen fish that Nevada law singles out as invasive, damaging water species.
However with its long, needle-sharp teeth, the voracious predator that often grows longer than 4 feet (1.2 meters) can erase an entire fishery.
“They consume all the trout we put in there,” Edwin Lyngar, representative for the state wildlife firm, stated in an interview Friday. “Then they consume all the other fish they can discover, and then they begin to consume each other.”
The remote eastern Nevada lake near Utah border covers about two-thirds of a square mile (1.7 square kilometers) and draws many anglers.
“It brings remarkable financial activity to this part of the state,” Lyngar said. “Years back, individuals came from all over the world to fish that lake.”
At its peak in 2004, the lake logged 35,000 “angler user days” and produced more than $2 million for the regional economy as the fourth-most gone to fishery in the state behind Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and the Truckee River, which flows out of Lake Tahoe through downtown Reno. That fell to about 2,000 user days and $73,000 by 2013 as the non-native pike took control of.
The reward loan was donated by a number of sportspersons’s groups, consisting of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Operation Game Thief People Board. If officials catch a suspect, the individual would deal with criminal charges.
Lyngar did not wish to speculate on the wrongdoer’s motives.
“However we’ve had individuals put pike in waterways before since they wish to catch pike. They are an excellent battling fish,” he stated.
Authorities also can not eliminate a remote possibility that the fish found some natural way to get into the lake.
“Anything is possible, however the proof suggests very strongly that is not the case,” Lyngar stated. “We believe very strongly they were introduced by someone on purpose.”
Lyngar said state biologists are doing whatever they can to stop the pike prior to they get a toehold and they’ve seen no proof of any survivors given that they netted the last four throughout an extensive electrofishing effort recently.
A biologist “informed me he doesn’t mind if one is left,” Lyngar said. “However if there are two, we remain in difficulty.”
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