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Invasive Bass Threaten Cariboo Watershed

August 17, 2006

Williams Lake – Smallmouth bass have invaded a watershed in the Cariboo, an event that has Ministry of Environment officials concerned about their detrimental effect on the native trout population.

On July 14, 2006, two boys fishing with their father in Beaver Creek, just upstream from where it enters the Quesnel River, caught the first recorded smallmouth bass in Cariboo Region 5.

Ministry of Environment surveys have since captured four additional bass from several lakes in the Beaver Valley watershed. The confirmed distribution of bass in Beaver Creek now extends 40 km upstream from the Quesnel River. Ministry biologists are continuing to expand the survey within the watershed in an attempt to find more bass.

Bass are not naturally present in Cariboo watersheds and pose a direct threat to the quality of local fisheries and biodiversity. Bass are aggressive predatory fish, often out-competing natural and stocked species such as rainbow trout. They also pose a threat to naturally occurring species of amphibians. It is presumed that the bass were introduced to the system through unauthorized stocking.

There is a reward of up to $20,000 for evidence leading to the conviction of anyone illegally stocking non-native spiny-ray fish in B.C. The B.C. Wildlife Federation and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans are offering the reward through Crime Stoppers.

Perch, bass and sunfish, collectively known as spiny-ray fish, have been found in many lakes in B.C., illegally transplanted by anglers looking for a different type of fishing experience. The discovery in the Cariboo is the farthest north in B.C. that bass have been found.

Anyone who thinks they may have seen bass, perch or sunfish in the Cariboo Region should call the Ministry of Environment at 398-4530 or report the information through the province’s wildlife infraction reporting hotline at 1 877 952- RAPP (7277), or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network. Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1 800 222-TIPS (8477).


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