invasive species

Krissy Dunker / Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Biologists have been working on eliminating northern pike from Kenai Peninsula lakes and streams for years. Northern pike are native to Alaska north of the Alaska Range in areas like Bristol Bay and Fairbanks, but they were introduced to lakes in Southcentral in the mid-20th century. Since then, they’ve been stuffing themselves on salmon fry and degrading salmon runs in the Mat-Su Valley, Anchorage, and the Kenai Peninsula.

"You get down in Southcentral where pike have been on the landscape 60 years or so—we have a before and after picture," said Krissy Dunker, who manages the Southcentral Alaska Invasive Species program for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "We know certain systems that used to produce coho, chinook and other things, and those are gone now. It’s just pike."

Wikimedia Commons

While the Kenai Peninsula is relatively lucky that the ecosystems here are fairly intact, there are still a handful of invasive species making their way into the streams, fields and gardens here. In recent years, that’s accelerated due to climate change and people intentionally or unintentionally bringing in new species.

ADF&G

There’s a new species on Alaska’s most wanted list.

Invasive Zebra mussels have made their way up north from the Lower 48, hitching rides on aquarium moss balls to pet stores.

Biologists in Alaska and more than 30 other states are concerned. For a creature the size of a fingernail, zebra mussels pack a lot of punch. 

FWS

Alaska’s unforgiving climate once kept invasive species at bay.

Katherine Schake, of the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, said that isn’t the case anymore.

Kenai Conversation: Invasive species

Nov 21, 2019

Longer, drier summers, teamed with shorter, warmer winters are giving invasive species better opportunities to gain a foothold on the Kenai Peninsula. On this week’s Kenai Conversation, we’ll learn about what species pose a threat, and why, with Katherine Schake from the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, Borough Land Manager Marcus Mueller and Maura Schumacher, invasives specialist at the Kenai Watershed Forum.

  Today, we look at invasive species - those critters large and small that endanger the natural beauty, and in some cases, our way of life here on the Kenai Peninsula. Our guests are  John Morton, the supervisory biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Jennifer Hester of the Kenai Watershed Forum’s Adopt a Stream program, and Rob Massengill, a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. We begin the conversation discussing invasive northern pike, a sports fish introduced to the Kenai Peninsula, and whose eradication has taken decades.

Unintended consequences endanger peninsula salmon

Jun 20, 2018

On the Kenai Peninsula, salmon are king. Whether they’re king salmon or one of the other species of salmonid that populate our fresh waters. And that’s why when there’s a biologic danger to their existence, people go into high gear to try and protect them.

Take invasive species for example. About 20 years ago, northern pike were illegally introduced into Kenai Peninsula lakes by persons unknown. And they thrived, just like they do elsewhere in Alaska where they naturally occur. But here on the Kenai, the pike’s success came at a cost - the lives of baby salmon.

  The last series of lakes in the central peninsula to be treated for invasive northern pike is the subject of a public meeting Thursday night. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will have on hand the project biologist, the area sport fishery manager, and the area research supervisor will be in attendance to answer questions. 

The public meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 Thursday evening at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.