In Your Own Backyard – September 3, 2009

Sea lamprey control planned for Grand River, Crockery Creek, Rogue River

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will apply lampricides to sections of Crockery Creek in Ottawa and Muskegon counties and the Rogue River in Kent County to kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the stream bottom. The applications will be conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11 in accordance with State of Michigan permits. Tentatively, treatment of Rogue River will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Applications will be complete in about 36-48 hours. The 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.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency 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. 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, insect, 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.

Extensive preparations are required for a safe and effective stream treatment. 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. Applicators are trained and are certified by Michigan regulatory agencies for aquatic applications of pesticides.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is committed to delivering a sea lamprey control program that practices good environmental stewardship. 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada are currently evaluating the release of sterile male sea lampreys as a control measure in the St. Marys River. 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.

Additional information about sea lampreys and sea lamprey control is available online at www.glfc.org. TTY users may reach the Marquette or Ludington Biological Stations through the Michigan State Relay Service at 1-800-649-3777.

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