Creek in Houghton County to be treated for lamprey

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Sea lamprey attached to a lake trout. These parasites attach to fish and suck the blood from fish. As few as one in seven fish may survive a sea lamprey attack. Attacks have resulted in reduced stocks of lake trout, salmon, whitefish, cisco and burbot in the Great Lakes.

HOUGHTON — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will apply lampricides to Schlotz Creek, located in the community of Oskar, in Stanton Township, to kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the stream bottom. The announcement comes in a Thursday release from Department of the Interior

Midwest Region 3 – Great Lakes, in Marquette.

Applications will be conducted on or about Sept. 28, 2021, in accordance with State of Michigan permits. Applications will be complete in about seven days. Application dates are tentative and may be changed based upon local weather or stream conditions near the time of treatment.

Sea lamprey larvae live in certain Great Lakes tributaries and transform to parasitic adults that migrate to the Great Lakes and kill fish. Failure to kill the larvae in streams would result in significant damage to the Great Lakes fishery. Infested tributaries must be treated every three to five years with lampricides to control sea lamprey populations.

Sea lampreys are a jawless parasitic fish native to the Atlantic Ocean, states the Fish and Wildlife Service. Invading the Great Lakes via manmade locks and shipping canals, their aggressive behavior and appetite for fish blood wreaked havoc on native fish populations. Sea lampreys decimated an already vulnerable lake trout fishery.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency have reviewed human health and environmental safety data for lampricides, and in 2003 concluded that the lampricides (Lampricid and Bayluscide) pose no unreasonable risk to the general population and the environment when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval sea lampreys the release states. However, as with any pesticide, the public is advised to use discretion and minimize unnecessary exposure. Lampricides are selectively toxic to sea lampreys, but a few fish, insects, and broadleaf plants are sensitive. Persons confining bait fish or other organisms in stream water are advised to use an alternate water source because lampricides may cause mortality among aquatic organisms stressed by crowding and handling. Agricultural irrigation must be suspended for 24 hours, during and following treatment.

Lampricides, as with all pesticides sold or distributed in the United States and Canada, must be registered by the U.S. EPA and Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency, according to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. However, fish caught during treatment should be filleted to further reduce exposure to lampricides. Greater than 95 percent of lampricide residues in a fish are contained in parts other than the fillets, the Fishery Commission reports.

Extensive preparations are required for a safe and effective stream treatment, the release states. Prior to treatment, personnel collect data on stream water chemistry and discharge. In addition, they may conduct on-site toxicity tests with lampricides and stream flow studies with dyes that cause stream water to appear red or green.

Lampricides are carefully metered into the stream for approximately 12 hours, and continually analyzed at predetermined sites to assure that proper concentrations are maintained as the lampricides are carried downstream, the release states. Applicators are trained and are certified by regulatory agencies for aquatic applications of pesticides.

The program is contracted through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Commission initiated chemical control of sea lampreys in 1958. Since that time the highly successful program has contributed significantly to the maintenance of the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fisheries.

“The Commission is committed to delivering a sea lamprey control program that practices good environmental stewardship,” states the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “To support the continued safe use of lampricides, the Commission recently conducted a series of studies at a total cost of $6 million to assess the effects of the lampricides on human health and the environment. In addition to these studies the Commission has implemented a research program to develop alternative control techniques. The Commission also is developing a strategy to increase the number of barriers on lamprey-producing streams, and is conducting research into barrier design, traps, attractants, and biological controls.”


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