Invasive northern pike is again in the cross hairs for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Though native to western and interior parts of the state, pike can and have done real damage to populations of native fish, like salmon, in south central. They’ve been documented in several water bodies on the Kenai, but the latest focus is directed at the lakes off Tote Road, south of Soldotna, says ADF&G sportfish manager Brian Marston.
“They can compete and they consume small salmon, especially the smaller pike. They’re not natural to this area. So, it could reach a situation where they’ve extirpated all the salmon out of the system. It’s been especially bad in the Mat-Su, around the Alexander river and those places. We don’t want them to get a foot hold down on the Kenai, so we’ve been eradicating them wherever we’ve found them.”
About ten years ago at Arc lake, which is in the same area, illegally introduced pike quickly overran the other species. The chemical rotenone was successfully put to use there to conquer the invaders.
Mackey lake and Stormy lake have also seen pike introduced. Plans for Tote road haven’t been finalized yet. ADF&G has a meeting scheduled to get public input on the best way forward, because for some, pike are a good sportfish. And for some of them, it’s not bad to eat, either.
“We’re really interested in getting public input on how to proceed, so if you’re interested in this issue at all, please attend the meeting. There will be another meeting later. But we’re not planning on moving forward on any sort of eradication until mid or late summer next year. This is just the planning phase," Marston said.
The department is considering restocking some of those lakes with native species. That will be one topic for discussion at the public meeting set for Monday, December 11th at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge headquarters at 6 pm.