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Invasive plans to eliminate invasive fish from Lake Tahoe (Opinion)

Edward Wade
Guest column

Regarding Tahoe RCD plan to eradicate some non-native fish in Lake Tahoe concerns anglers.

It is well known that warm water fish (bass and bluegill) have diminished wild trout populations at Lake Tahoe.

I fully agree, mitigation would greatly help support gene pools of more appropriate cold-water fish. Let’s keep Tahoe a cold-water haven. However, getting rid of the illegally planted warm water fish isn’t altogether realistic, and the real agenda is only hinted at: Protection for recently planted Cutthroat trout, declared as the only ‘worthy’ fish allowed in the lake.

You may recall much flag-waving last fall?

Two of my fishing buddies – who also happen to be fisheries biologists not paid to support ‘crafted science’ – point out: There is no science to support further dumping of cutthroat trout into Lake Tahoe. If there is a worthy cause here, shouldn’t it be obvious to direct resources toward supporting wild trout already adapted to survival here – browns, rainbows, and kokanee salmon?

Cutthroat ‘restoration’ does have some science behind it though, as a proven disaster. Fallen Leaf Lake was trotted out as a cutthroat ‘test location’ 15 years ago; it now has a collapsed fishery. You can stop waving that flag now.

Planter cutthroat quickly dwindle into skinny snake-like (starving) creatures after leaving the hatchery dump truck. This occurs even in places where the previous competing wild trout populations have been ‘treated’ (exterminated).

Real Science does prove cutthroat thrive best in alkaline waters (like Pyramid Lake); the Tahoe / Alpine version of cutts is extinct. Really, stop waving the flag.

The cutthroats stocked in Tahoe last fall (like other tax dollar project promises) will likely never be seen again.

The RCD’s plan to use ‘non chemical’ means of invasive removal means … electroshocking? And what is to happen to the wild trout that get shocked along the way? Are these fish then to be treated reverently as the precious brood stock they are?

With perfectly adapted gene pools, the wild trout in Lake Tahoe are predetermined to be far more successful and cost-effective than cutt clones for stocking programs. Nature knows (and shows) what works. Let’s work with nature, not against it. Where do the locals get to vote on what’s worthy here?

While on its surface, eliminating invasive species sounds like a great idea. However, it also smacks of tactics that chisel away with zealous banner-waving (we’re just doing this to save blah-blah) measures that lead to more invasive ones. ‘Now we just want to get rid of the Kokanee; they’re not native …’

Follow the money, and consider sources not paid to support ‘crafted science’ perpetuating projects like this. You expect a different result this time? We all know what that’s called…

And what about the invasive Canada Geese, they use Tahoe for one big dumping ground. How about a plan to mitigate these things? It wouldn’t cost much, and there would be almost instant improvement to water quality. That’s a goal everyone wants.

Edward Wade is a South Lake Tahoe resident.


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