F. Dale Lolley Column

Fish and Game Commission dropped ball on Asian carp evidence

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News recently broke the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission shut down 84 Lakes because the owners said there is evidence of Asian carp.


We won’t call it an infestation because, well, we just don’t know.


While the Facebook page for the pay lake in Somerset Township said it was closed because Asian carp were found there, the commission is mum on the subject, saying only it is “investigating violations” there and could not further comment.


While the presence of an illegal and invasive fish species isn’t the same as, say, a bank robbery or shooting, isn’t the public owed more of an explanation than that?


This is especially true when it is apparent the lake’s owners aren’t hiding the fact they were closed down because of the presence of at least one Asian carp. In fact, there is a photo of the fish in question on the Facebook page for the lake from May 28.


According to people who live near the lake, the commission had biologists at 84 Lakes electrofishing in an attempt to make sure more Asian carp aren’t present. And, according to the lake’s Facebook page, it will remain closed through this weekend at least.


But again, wouldn’t it have been nice to hear about these things from the commission? Why the secrecy?


Since this is an invasive species we’re talking about, shouldn’t the commission be letting everyone know? What if somebody had caught an Asian carp at 84 Lakes, mistook it for another species, and took it home to put it in a pond? Or worse yet, one of the local public waterways?


Shouldn’t word of this spread a little more freely?


Given the beating the Pennsylvania Game Commission took over the presence of coyotes in the state for so long, why not just come clean? “Yes, there was an Asian carp found in a pay lake. We are investigating whether it is an isolated incident.”


That doesn’t seem so hard.


Hopefully, this was an isolated incident. Hopefully, there wasn’t an infestation of Asian carp at 84 Lakes. And from all early indications, that appears to be the case.


Asian carp are voracious feeders that push native species aside and take over a waterway. They’ve become such a problem the Federal government and a number of states banded together to figure out ways to attempt to keep them out of the Great Lakes, where they would devastate the game fish populations.


The Fish and Boat Commission, which usually does a good job with its public relations, dropped the ball on this one.



Outdoors Editor F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com.


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