- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - Alaska state biologists have begun the process of killing invasive northern pike in Soldotna lakes, with plans to restock those waterways with native fish.

When completed, the extensive project will be the eighth and largest pike-eradication effort in Alaska, the Peninsula Clarion (https://is.gd/6nk4Fg) reported.

A team participated in the work last week at four lakes treated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In the plan succeeds, the Soldotna Creek Drainage should be free of northern pike by 2018.

The effort is expected to cost more than $1 million in state and grant funding.

In last week’s undertaking, dozens of people in yellow hazardous materials suits participated.

Biologists Robert Begich and Jason Pawluk traveled around a lake in an aluminum boat. They were netting fish quickly as they emerged to keep the smell of rotting fish to a minimum. Houses are near shorelines of three of the lakes.

“We told people we would do that,” Begich said.

Fish and Game also plans to monitor drinking water near Soldotna Creek.

Agency biologist Krissy Dunker said the poison - piscicide rotenone - penetrates the soil about 1 inch. That’s not a concern for nearby water wells, she said.

“The primary health concern is actually to the people who are applying the rotenone,” Dunker said.

After the lakes are free of poison and invasive fish, biologists will begin rounding up native fish, including rainbow trout and salmon. The native fish will be transferred to the lakes now being treated.

“This will begin the process of restoring fish populations to the drainage,” Fish and Game regional supervisor Tom Vania said recently in a presentation to the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

Plans also call for treating in 2017 most of Soldotna Creek and two remaining lakes determined to contain northern pike.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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