July 31, 2011

Tackling Maine's pike problem

State biologists hope a catch-and-kill rule will help eliminate the non-native species.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Brian Campbell, an assistant regional biologist, and Paul Johnson, a retired biologist, scour Pushaw Stream in Old Town for pike.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Joshia Kuester, a contractor for the state, hoists a 17-pound northern pike he nabbed in a trap net in Pushaw Stream in April.

Courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Additional Photos Below

But Kramer, Moosehead Lake regional biologist Tim Obrey and retired Moosehead Lake biologist Paul Johnson hope the trust will decide instead on a modernized fish passage that sorts out the sea-run from non-native fish like pike.

"It's a very tenuous situation," Kramer said. "On the one hand, there is alewife restoration and that will be beneficial to Atlantic salmon. ... That's a good thing. But by the same token, (it's) allowing northern pike into the system, which also prey on salmon smolts as well as other species, I feel there is a better solution."

But the effort to restore sea-run fish to the Penobscot River will benefit the river's ecosystem, said Laura Rose Day, executive director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

In addition, that restoration effort, supported by a large team of state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, has considered the threat of pike, Day said.

Assessment studies have suggested that a sorting system at Howland won't keep pike out anyway, as the biggest threat is people moving fish, which Kramer said is most likely how pike got in the Penobscot drainage to begin with.

"All the agencies looked at this inside and out, including IFW, and the organizations that looked at this said (pike) are more likely to move some other way," Day said. "Nobody wants pike in the river. But healthy native fish populations is what this project is about. All of these assessments have shown the same thing, move ahead with the bypass and restore the native fish."

For now Kramer is hoping the catch-and-kill regulations will become law through the IFW rule-making process, and the pike can be held at bay.

Johnson said every effort to slow the pike needs to be taken, or native brook trout fisheries will be lost.

"They're in Pushaw," Johnson said. "They're going to move, maybe in five years, maybe in 10 or 20 years. But when it happens, it's done." 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:


Twitter: Flemingpph


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Additional Photos

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With electrodes and fishing nets dangling in the water, Brian Campbell, assistant regional biologist for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, electro-fishes for Pike on Pushaw Stream.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Nels Kramer places electro-fishing equipment off the side of his boat and into Pushaw Stream.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Biologists use electrodes to shock fish and collect them with nets in an effort to find northern pike.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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In the search for northern pike in Pushaw Stream, biologists were only able to net the pike’s cousin, pickerel. Nels Kramer of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said the two fish are cross-breeding.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer


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