Northern pike eradicated on peninsula, according to scientists
Northern pike, an invasive species of fish, have been eradicated on the Kenai Peninsula, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The species, which are native to interior and western Alaska, were illegally introduced to the Kenai Peninsula by fishermen in the 1970s.
Northern pike pose threats to native species in the region, including salmon. They thrive in slow-moving waters and can grow their populations quickly, dominating other species and causing permanent changes to ecosystems. Invasive Species Biologist Kristine Dunker is involved in eradication efforts on the peninsula, which began in 2008.
“In terms of eradication, getting rid of all the pike in a population, the priority really has been eradicating them for the Kenai Peninsula, which as far as we know, is now the case,” Dunker said. “All known populations have been removed.”
In 2019, pike were discovered in Vogel Lake at the northern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Before then, they had only been identified in lakes accessible by car. Research following the discovery indicates that pike can use Cook Inlet to travel between freshwater ecosystems.
After the discovery was made, Fish and Game added a weir near Vogel Lake to prevent northern pike in Cook Inlet from entering the body. Scientists say pike are most likely entering the Inlet by way of the Susitna River.
Invasive Species Biologist Parker Bradley says northern pike were eradicated from Vogel Lake, and the Kenai Peninsula, in 2021.
“We’ve eradicated pike from a total of 28 water bodies in Southcentral, and of those, 21 have been on the Kenai Peninsula,” he said.
Now that northern pike are utilizing the Inlet, the focus has shifted to prevention on the peninsula, which includes education and enforcement efforts. Eradication efforts of northern pike are still underway in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, which scientists say is more difficult.
Fish and Game asks anyone who catches an invasive pike to report it and retain the fish, when possible. You can report your findings on Fish and Game’s website or by dialing 1-877-INVASIV, without the letter ‘E.’