Yellowstone Rangers to Pour Poison into Park’s Streams

Bison in Yellowstone National ParkThe Yellowstone National Park announced earlier this week that its rangers will be forced to poison some of the site’s streams to kill off several invasive species threatening the ecosystem.

Other wildlife authorities are resorting to similar tactics across the state for the same reason: invasive species are growing in numbers and they pose a real threat to native species and human activities on the state’s lakes and rivers.

The national park explained that its biologists will relocate the Yellowstone cutthroat trout from one of the park’s creeks and fill the place with rotenone, a powerful poison that will wipe out all other denizens of the stream.

Biologists hope that they will be thus be able to get rid of other trout species that have reached the park through the streams in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains. These fish species are especially troublesome because they can outgrow native species and even prey on local fish.

Park rangers recently said that biologists are in a race against time to save and restore the cutthroat trout in the park’s streams. The fish is very important to maintain the integrity of the local ecosystem, researchers said.

Under the new plan, biologists will first stun and remove the trout from the stream, poison the waters, wait for the other species to die, and return the displaced fish to its natural habitat.

If all goes by the plan, the brook trout will be prevented from entering the Lamar River. Last summer, authorities did a similar thing, but the pesky species survived the poisoning.

The measure may seem extreme, but other conservationists are resorting to similar tactics across the nation. In Utah, for example, officials drained a stream in Red Hills Desert Garden just to exterminate the invaders. Utah authorities said that people have illegally dumped over 1,000 goldfish in the endangered fish sanctuary from the beginning of the year.

Park officials added that the non-native fish are out-competing the sanctuary’s endangered species. They described the solution as “unfortunate,” but they said they had no other option.

Under the plan, native species will be caught before draining the man-made stream. The remaining species will next be killed with poison.

Nevada’s Lake Tahoe is also facing a goldfish invasion. Authorities noted that the tiny fish, which can grow to be 18-inch-long in the wild, has already outnumbered native species.

Image Source: Wikimedia