After fighting off legal challenges for a decade, California wildlife officials are ready to try to save a threatened fish in the high Sierra the only way they know how — by poisoning its creek.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists plan to begin dumping poison in an 11-mile stretch of the Silver King Creek south of Lake Tahoe on Wednesday as part of a long-term plan to rebuild populations of the native Paiute cutthroat trout.
The agency says it can't begin to restore the native fish protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1967 until they kill off invasive trout that are eating its young in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Carson Iceberg Wilderness. The creek would eventually be restocked with Paiute cutthroat trout.
"We're very excited," said Ted Koch, Nevada supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"It's not often we are able to put ourselves in a position of being within arm's reach of recovering and delisting a species, but that's where we are today," he told the Reno Gazette Journal (http://tinyurl.com/l746f8b). "We have every confidence this will go well."
The action comes after a federal judge last May cleared the way for the government to proceed, closing the chapter on the last of three legal challenges filed by the project's critics over the years. In 2005, biologists were already hiking into the wilderness to conduct poisoning operation when a judge ordered them to turn around.
Laurel Ames of the Friends of Silver Creek said it doesn't make sense to kill all the fish in order to save them but it's time to move on. More....