Wildlife officials draft expansion to lamprey control program

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(Host) Fish and Wildlife officials hope to expand a program to control lampreys on Lake Champlain.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials want to expand the use of lampricide. It would be used in new locations including the Lamoille River, Otter Creek in Vergennes, and Mill Brook in Port Henry, New York.

A new lamprey trapping program is also proposed for Pond Brook in Colchester.

Brad Young of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the sites were selected because lamprey were found in those lake tributaries during a routine survey.

Young says the results of a long-term program to control the eel variety have been disappointing because controls haven’t been implemented on all streams where lamprey are found:

(Young) So we’ve been up to 99 wounds per 100 fish, as of last year. And we’ve just recently seen those wounds coming back down into the 46 wound per 100 fish range. So we’ve seen an increase in our effectiveness and a decrease in wounding rates, which is at least pleasing to us. We’re on the right track now we think."

(Host) The program currently treats lamprey with traps or lampricide on 15 lake tributaries. Young says lamprey are opportunistic and are likely moving from better habitat to new ponds and rivers:

(Young) "As we control those areas and they’re no longer conducive to lamprey survival, the lamprey seem to almost inherently know it’s time to go somewhere else where they can better adapt and persist."

(Host) Lampreys attack soft-bodied fish like the Atlantic trout and Atlantic Salmon. They either kill fish outright, or cause wounds that eventually result in death.

The wildlife groups behind the lamprey program will hold two public hearings and accept comments on the proposal.

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