NYS DEC Efforts to Eradicate Northern Snakehead

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently sent out a letter to residents near Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek regarding their use of fish toxicant CFT Legumine (liquid 5% rotenone formulation manufactured by Prentiss Incorporated) to eradicate Northern Snakehead (Channa argus).

The northern snakehead is an invasive fish native to China, Russia and Korea. Other snakehead species are native to parts of Asia and Africa. Two populations of this air-breathing predator have been identified in New York State; one in two connected ponds in Queens, NYC and one in Ridgebury Lake in the Town of Wawayanda, Orange County. While the Queens population is confined, the Ridgebury population, situated in the Wallkill River drainage, has the potential to infest the entire Hudson River drainage and beyond to the Great Lakes and continental US.

The letter stated, in part:

We are writing to update you concerning the Department of Environmental Conservation’s efforts regarding the restoration of Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek. On Tuesday, August 5th, 2008 the Department began the process of restoring Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek downstream to the Route 6 crossing by treating these waters with the fish toxicant CFT Legumine to eradicate Northern Snakehead (Channa argus). As you know, northern snakehead is a highly invasive non-native predator fish that has the potential to prey on and compete with fish native to New York. It had become established in the headwaters of Catlin Creek, including Ridgebury Lake. As many of you have witnessed first hand, this has been an enormous undertaking, one that has resulted in significant impacts including a temporary loss of the fish population and the temporary disruption of the peaceful atmosphere of the waterfront lands you cherish. The sacrifices you have made to allow us to take aggressive action to eradicate this invasive species and prevent it from spreading throughout the state are greatly appreciated.

Prior to treatment, the DEC collected native fish from Ridgebury Lake and stored them in temporary tanks. On July 31 and August 1, DEC collected 1,400 fish, including bass, crappie, yellow perch, bullheads and shiners, to be held and used to restock Ridgebury Lake once the lake water was determined to be safe for fish. Due to the treatment, DEC banned the following activities until early September

  • Swimming and bathing
  • Fishing and/or fish consumption
  • Livestock watering
  • Irrigation or spraying of agricultural crops
  • Use of treated surface water for human consumption
  • Use of treated surface water for domestic purposes

DEC has established a website with information on the Northern Snakehead Fish at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/45470.html

Click on the article title link for more information.

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