Vampire Fish to be Slain With Pesticides

Wildlife Workers to Poison Entire Stream to Kill “Vampire Fish”

Here is a link to a video about the article/lampreys if you wanted to watch your news rather than read it: Wildlife Workers Hunt to Kill Vampire Fish

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to initiate an extermination plan against parasitic sea lamprey, commonly known as “Vampire Fish,” that are infesting waters near Lake Michigan. The fish use their vampire-like skills to latch onto other marine animals, mainly fish, and live off of them by sucking out their blood. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to use a targeted pesticide treatment to kill off larval sea lamprey, thereby allowing other fish a chance to flourish. The adult lampreys are apparently extremely difficult to target and kill. However, the pesticide that will be used has about a 95% success rate at killing the bloodsuckers in their larval stage.  The above article and other sites claim no other animals are expected to be affected by the Wildlife Service poisoning an entire stream.

I’m pretty skeptical that an entire stream can be poisoned and only affect a specific larvae. I feel like zooplankton or other smaller organisms would be affected by a pesticide purging. This extermination strategy also doesn’t address the issue that the adult lampreys can just make more babies. Furthermore, the article states that this treatment is “usually carried out every three to five years.” So, apparently this technique has been utilized before (hopefully it really does only affect larval lamprey). The article also says that the indefinite lamprey battle has cost $400 million dollars over the last 50 years. Although this pesticide approach may be effective temporarily, it obviously isn’t solving the problem. The Service seems to have just settled into a routine of stream poisoning that is expensive and potentially hazardous to other marine animals. Although not ideal, there aren’t very many alternatives for management when dealing with invasive species. Invasive species are designed to thrive in the environment they become “invasive” in. If you give an animal perfect environmental conditions and few natural predators, you set it up to reproduce efficiently and thrive. There isn’t much people can do to control them unless they can completely eradicate them and prevent new waves from migrating in. Obviously, as the Fish and Wildlife Service is well aware, preventing the spread of an aquatic animal is extremely difficult with so many intersecting waterways and flooding increasing the chances of cross-contamination in nearby lakes.

Pacific lamprey in a freshwater habitat. Wiki Commons: Jeremy Monroe

Pacific lamprey in a freshwater habitat. Wiki Commons: Jeremy Monroe





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