Big strides in lamprey control
Times Argus (VT)
Published February 6th, 2005
WATERBURY - Lake Champlain sea lamprey control is producing
According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department,
fall assessments of sea lamprey wounds on lake trout and
salmon in Lake Champlain indicate that sea lamprey attacks
are down as a result of pre-2004 chemical treatments of
Lewis Creek and New York streams.
The department sees that as good news in light of the
fact that additional benefits of 2004 sea lamprey treatments
will not be seen until the fall of 2005.
Treatments of the Winooski River and New York streams
in 2004 were estimated to have killed close to three-quarters
of a million sea lamprey ammocetes before they could transform
to blood-sucking predators and take their toll on Lake
Each year, biologists from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife
Department, New York Department of Environmental Conservation,
and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sample lake trout and
salmon in Lake Champlain. They count the numbers of sea
lamprey wounds and determine the number of wounds found
per 100 fish sampled.
Data collected last fall show the first signs of a decline
in wounding rates since the end of the eight-year experimental
sea lamprey control program in 1997.
Wounding rates for lake trout and landlocked salmon climbed
steadily following the end of Vermont treatments in 1997,
reaching 90 wounds per 100 lake trout and 86 wounds per
100 salmon in 2003. New York continued treatment in streams
following the end of the experimental program in 1997,
but wounding rates continued to climb.
Treatment of New York's river deltas, where most of the
sea lamprey production occurs, began again in 2003, after
the 2002 restart of lamprey control in Vermont streams.
The first signs of success are just now showing up, the
department said. Last fall's data found fish wounds down
to 62 per 100 lake trout and 45 wounds per 100 salmon.
The goal of the Lake Champlain sea lamprey control program
is to reduce wounding rates to 25 wounds (10 wounds ideally)
per 100 lake trout and 15 wounds (5 wounds ideally) per
100 landlocked salmon.
No lamprey control treatments are scheduled by either
Vermont or New York this year. The first round of treatments
was completed last fall. Because sea lamprey ammocoetes
live in streams for 4-7 years, treatments only need to
be made every four years on each river.
Vermont and New York will continue to encourage Quebec
to provide sea lamprey control on Morpion Stream in Quebec.
Lewis Creek is next on Vermont's schedule in 2006.
"Vermont's Congressional delegation deserves thanks
for acquiring additional federal funds that will ensure
money is available to Vermont and New York to continue
with planned lamprey treatments on Lake Champlain tributaries,"
said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche.
"Congress recently appropriated $845 thousand dollars
to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission's budget that
is earmarked for Lake Champlain sea lamprey control.
"Let's hope last fall's reduction in wounding rates
will bring better lake trout and salmon fishing this year,"
Laroche said. "Spring fishing will be here soon."