Illegal dumping turns into costly problem

Local News

PAYSON, Utah (News4Utah) – A multiplying goldfish population is causing a headache for anglers and the Division of Wildlife is working to clean it up. A few goldfish were originally dumped into Maple Lake, which is up Payson Canyon, and now the school of goldfish has hit 10,000 members. 

“You can buy them from Petsmart. It used to be 49 cents. So now a 49 cents problem turns into a couple thousand dollars problem,” said Ruth Ann Nielsen, a Salem resident when she heard the news. Nielsen once ran an animal rescue. 

For Maple Lake, it’s a problem costing between $3,000 and $5,000. While wildfire closed the canyon for the last few weeks, anglers complained to DWR that all they could catch were goldfish. An invasive species like the goldfish really impact our waterways.

Someone with good intentions likely released a few fish, but in the end, saving those two lives results in killing 10,000 more as well as the lake ecosystem.

“They’ve become quite. a nuisance, they have eaten all of the bugs that would have been utilized by trout. They are also like carp and stir up a lot of the sediment thus degrading water quality in a beautiful mountain lake,” Chris Crockett, a Division of Wildlife Resources Regional Aquatics Manager, told News4Utah.

DWR crews use a chemical treatment to kill the fish called Rotenone. It is a chemical derived from the root of a bean plant. Gilled fish are highly sensitive to it, but other animals would have to drink a tremendous amount of treated water to feel any impact. 

“It’s very selective and only impacts gilled fish and interferes with their ability to process oxygen, and it’s really very safe for other wildlife in the area, “ said Crockett.

Spanish Oaks near Spanish Fork Canyon is also dealing with an overpopulation of goldfish right now. The water is being drained in that area for dam work and that will also kill the invasive species there.

Last week, DWR crews treated Pelican Lake near Vernal due to invasive carp and Kolob Reservoir in Southern Utah will start chemical treatment next week. While it seems like this is becoming more of a problem, DWR says this type of illegal dumping happens every year. Treatment is now underway because of our weather pattern.

“When it’s dry it’s a good opportunity to do these projects. It’s cheaper if the water level is really low. Since this was the lowest recorded water year in Utah, that’s probably why you are seeing a lot of those projects take place,” said Crockett.

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