Sea lamprey control planned for Little Manistee River

LUDINGTON — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will apply lampricides to the Little Manistee River system in Lake and Manistee Counties to kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the stream bottom. The applications will be conducted between June 7 and June 16, 2011 in accordance with State of Michigan permits. Tentatively, treatment of the Little Manistee River system will begin on Friday June 10, 2011. Applications will be complete in about 72 hours. The application dates are tentative and may be changed based upon local weather or stream conditions near the time of treatment.

Sea lamprey larvae live in certain Great Lakes tributaries and transform to parasitic adults that migrate to the Great Lakes and kill fish. Failure to kill the larvae in streams would result in significant damage to the Great Lakes fishery. Infested tributaries must be treated every three to five years with lampricides to control sea lamprey populations.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency have reviewed human health and environmental safety data for lampricides and in 2003, concluded that the lampricides (Lampricide and Bayluscide) pose no unreasonable risk to the general population and the environment when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval sea lampreys. However, as with any pesticide, the public is advised to use discretion and minimize unnecessary exposure. Lampricides are selectively toxic to sea lampreys, but a few fish, insect, and broadleaf plants are sensitive. Persons confining bait fish or other organisms in stream water are advised to use an alternate water source because lampricides may cause mortality among aquatic organisms stressed by crowding and handling. Agricultural irrigation must be suspended for 24 hours, during and following treatment.

Extensive preparations are required for a safe and effective stream treatment. Prior to treatment, personnel collect data on stream water chemistry and discharge. In addition, they may conduct on-site toxicity tests with lampricides and stream flow studies with dyes that cause stream water to appear red or green.

Lampricides are carefully metered into the stream for approximately 12 hours, and continually analyzed at predetermined sites to assure that proper concentrations are maintained as the lampricides are carried downstream. Applicators are trained and are certified by Michigan regulatory agencies for aquatic applications of pesticides.

The program is contracted through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Commission initiated chemical control of sea lampreys in 1958. Since that time the highly successful program has contributed significantly to the maintenance of the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fisheries. Without continued control efforts these fisheries again would be in jeopardy. Treatment of these streams will destroy thousands of larval sea lampreys including many that would be expected to transform and migrate to Lake Michigan to begin their parasitic life cycle. Each lamprey in the lakes consumes upwards of 40 pounds of lake trout and salmon during its parasitic life.

Additional information about sea lampreys and sea lamprey control is available online at TTY users may reach the Marquette or Ludington Biological Stations through the Michigan State Relay Service at (800) 649-3777.