SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reminded Utahns that it is harmful and illegal to dump unwanted pet fish into local ponds or move caught fish from one body of water to another.

Each spring and fall, DWR biologists reportedly survey lakes and streams to get data about fish, including weight, condition, and population numbers. This year, however, biologists found that several fish were illegally placed into several bodies of water across the state, according to the DWR.

Illegally placed fish include:

When a fish is illegally introduced into a new body of water, the DWR said, it can negatively impact the fishery.

Illegal fish species can prey on and outcompete other species, including sportfish, native fish, and endangered fish species, according to the DWR. New fish can also reportedly introduce disease, as they were not properly tested before being dumped into that body of water. Additionally, DWR officials said new fish can negatively impact water quality.

DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said that illegal fish introductions rarely improve fisheries, but instead can ruin them and threaten other species that live there. He added that the practice is illegal and can result in a class A misdemeanor.

Oplinger said it is expensive and time-consuming to restore bodies of water after fish have been illegally introduced, often requiring rotenone treatments to kill all of the fish.

“Please help our native fish species and maintain quality fishing in Utah by never dumping a fish or being a ‘bucket biologist,'” he said.

Utahns are encouraged to call 1-800-662-3337 to report any invasive fish they find, or if they see anyone illegally introducing fish into a body of water or trying to relocate live fish. Utahns can also contact their nearest DWR office if they have an unwanted fish or if they have concerns about a fishery in Utah. 

To learn more about the negative consequences of illegal fish introductions, visit the “Don’t Ditch a Fish” page on the DWR website.