Why Utah DWR wants to poison an entire lake of fish

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Navajo Lake in Kane County, Utah (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

KANE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Utah wildlife officials are planning to poison the fish of a popular waterbody. The ‘fishery reset’ is in response to the lake’s ‘overwhelming Utah chub population.’

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says it is considering a rotenone treatment later this fall in Navajo Lake. The treatment is intended to restore the trout fishery at the lake. Before the fishery reset occurs, the DWR hopes to meet with the public, explain the treatment process, and answer questions about the proposed project.

Currently, the proposed rotenone treatment for Navajo Lake, located in Kane County, would occur in mid-October. The DWR says rotenone is a natural substance from the roots of a tropical plant in the bean family. While it is not dangerous to people, pets, or other wildlife, rotenone is a respiratory toxin to fish.

Biologists intended to use an extremely low quantity of rotenone to treat the lake. These treatments have proven to be an effective management tool when waterbodies are overrun by certain fish species, according to the DWR. In anticipation of the rotenone treatment, the DWR recently increased the daily limit for trout on Navajo Lake.

The DWR says the trout in the lake are currently struggling due to the overabundant population of Utah chub, which is causing competition for food and oxygen. Over 90% of the fish in the waterbody are Utah chubs, outcompeting the rainbow, brook, splake, and tiger trout stocked in the lake. The increased fishing limit is in effect until Oct. 31, 2021.

Last year, biologists discovered Utah chubs in Panguitch Lake, saying they were unsure when they were introduced in the body of water.

Utah chub caught on Navajo Lake in Kane County, Utah (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

DWR biologists will hold a public meeting to discuss the project and answer questions you may have about the upcoming treatment. A meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Duck Creek Village Fire Station on Mammoth Creek Road. If you are unable to attend the meeting and want to provide feedback on the proposed treatment, email DWR Southern Region Aquatics Manager Richard Hepworth at richardhepworth@utah.gov

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