Three Washington Native tribes this week are joining two state agencies and two public utility districts in targeting the northern pike. That’s a big species of fish that’s caught for sport in the upper Midwest, but which fisheries biologists say poses huge potential damage to Northwest salmon runs.
Justin Bush from the Washington Invasive Species Council says it’s believed the pike was introduced years ago in the Pend Oreille River in northeastern Washington. Now, he says, it has eaten its way downstream to Lake Roosevelt and Grand Coulee Dam.
“Northern pike are a problem because they prey on species that we value, such as trout, salmon, steelhead," Bush said. "In states such as Alaska and California, where northern pike have been introduced, they’ve been able to reduce fish runs to levels that effectively crash entire fisheries.”
Bush says the Spokane, Kalispel and Colville Confederated Tribes this week are working with his agency, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Chelan and Grant County Public Utility Districts. They’re encouraging fishers to catch and kill pike. Lake Roosevelt anglers can turn their fish in at collection stations for a 10-dollar-per-fish bounty. The Colville Tribes are in charge of that.
Bush says those who catch pike downstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams should kill them and report them to his agency.