Tag Archives: rotenone

Rotenone? 1952 Called Again and Wants Its Species Management Strategy Back

Native Frog dies from Rotenone Poisoning
The latest plan to ‘restore’ using poison has found its way to public comment this week as officials from Montana and Wyoming request feedback on the draft environmental assessment for the Soda Butte Creek drainage by June 13.  Readers who care about Yellowstone National Park or these important headwaters will want to learn more about this outdated practice of using poison to clear-cut the aquatic biota in order to stock a trout monoculture reared in hatcheries.  See www.stopriverkilling.org

Those wishing to share written comments Jason.rhoten@gmail.com Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings MT 59105 and to Susan Stresser comments-rocky-mountain-shoshone@fs.fed.us , Wapiti Ranger District, 203A Yellowstone Ave, Cody WY 82412

Questions regarding the environmental risks and efficacy of these practices may be directed to Ken Frazer 406-247-2961 and Jason Rhoten 406-328-6160 Read More http://billingsgazette.com/lifestyles/recreation/article_80b78340-526d-5bdc-a716-7054e8dbb0c9.html

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Rotenone? 1952 Called and Wants Its Fisheries Management Strategy Back

A recent study in the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society  (Volume 142, Issue 1, 2013) reports that after two decades, wild trout in the Blackfoot River Basin of Montana are still benefiting from stream restoration efforts.

That’s great news that a peer-reviewed study finds a positive correlation between restoration and wild trout populations.  Habitat restoration offers numerous ecological benefits, many of which are far too complex to fully understand.

What is of concern in this study is why resource agencies will loudly proclaim the benefits of habitat restoration in one stream reach, but quietly use poisons to destroy habitat in another reach. The Blackfoot Challenge Project, in its difficult to find, yet technically public, planning documents clearly indicates stream poisoning and restocking as a restoration strategy, in the following sections:

2.5.1 Experimentally remove established brook trout populations;
2.5.2  Suppress northern pike in Clearwater Lakes chain;
3.1.2 Aggressively protect remaining native species complexes… by aggressively removing any nonnative invaders;
4. 3 Develop genetic management plans and guidelines for appropriate use of transplantation and artificial propagation.

What you will not find in this document are words like “rotenone,” “Antimycin-A,” “fish-toxicants,” “piscicides,” and common phrases like “native trout restoration.”  These terms are increasingly being cleansed from agency documents and discourse.  Now those responsible for sterilizing streams in the name of ‘restoration’ are avoiding mention of the lethal policies and practices.

The flawed logic of single-species management by any name, is severely damaging to aquatic ecosystems.  How can poisoning all of the living inhabitants of a stream reach, containing the intricate web of life that supports trout at its apex, be considered restorative? More than 70% of the funding for The Blackfoot Challenge comes from tax dollars.  Does it make sense to use tax dollars to restore riparian areas in one place and poison streams in another?

Our company believes protecting and restoring healthy, functioning freshwater streams and wetlands to sustain a high diversity of organisms is a much more effective and economical way of conserving species.

“Ecosystems will increasingly be a melting pot of long-term residents and of new arrivals,” said a team of scientists in the journal, Nature, calling conservationists to a new way of thinking.

Visit StopRiverKilling.org: http://www.stopriverkilling.org.

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A Positive Spin on Dumping Poison in Montana Lakes

 The Great Falls Tribune recently reported on Montana’s Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project quoting Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s assertion that the poisoning project is “showing good results.”

“The goal of the project is to wipe out hybridized trout in the watershed by about 2017. That involves stocking pure genetic strains of the fish, which are being raised at the Washoe Park Hatchery in Anaconda,” reported the Tribune. 

As an advocate for healthy rivers, streams and lakes, THI opposes stream poisonings with rotenone and other systemic chemicals. In the short film, “Dead Wrong” about such poisonings in Montana’s pristine wilderness areas, one renowned biologist calls man’s attempts to manipulate species in an ecosystem “arrogance at its zenith.”

Visit www.stopriverkilling.org to view the short film that premiered on World Water Day at Toronto’s MINT film festival.

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An Open Letter to Mr. Ted Williams – Following on his Commentary

Rarely have I seen an environmental issue so clouded by emotion and politics, or one with such bold disregard for science as this… 

My open letter today is written in response to comments made recently by outdoor writer Ted Williams at the website Conservation Magazine.  Among a roster of scientifically inaccurate statements, Williams says that Rotenone “…has never been seen to affect a single native ecosystem other than to restore it” and further claims there are no impacts to amphibians resultant from the use of the fish poison.


Dear Ted Williams:

Of course you understand that politics and nature writings are not the equivalent of SCIENCE. No more than character assassination is the equivalent of a rational discussion or debate. In response to your article, perhaps you could look to some more recent data – this on the California Red-legged Frog http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/endanger/litstatus/effects/redleg-frog/rotenone/determination.pdf

Per the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Determination: “Based on the best available information, the Agency makes a Likely to Adversely Affect (LAA) determination for the CRLF from the use of rotenone. Additionally, the Agency has determined that there is the potential for modification of CRLF designated critical habitat (HM) from the use of the chemical. RQs for direct effects of rotenone to CRLF exceed acute and chronic risk LOCs by factors of 206X and 105X, respectively, and the likelihood of individual mortality of aquatic-phase CRLF is 100%. Indirect effects to the CRLF may also occur through the loss of both aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate forage items.”

One could only assume the USEPA to be some of those “chemophobes” you suggest we need to be warned about?

Given your vocal position, I would kindly encourage you to stop attacking the writers, the scientists, and the agencies, and begin rationally considering the SCIENCE relating to this issue.  You can learn more (or even watch a native frog die from a rotenone poisoning project for yourself – if you really doubt the numbers) by visiting www.stopriverkilling.org

Michael C. Sprague, President

Trout Headwaters, Inc

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Chasing Rainbows – with Poison

What follows is a letter to the editor in response to a recent article in Conservation Magazine titled, Chasing Rainbows by Anders Halverson. “Lured by a utopian vision of nature, fish and game agencies dropped billions of trout into thousands of lakes. Now, they’re determined to undo the damage they caused,” writes Halverson. The article which appeared recently is an adaptation from his recent book An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World, published by Yale University Press. Find photos and resources related to fish-stocking at http://andershalverson.com 

Dear Conservation Magazine,

We found it incredible that Anders Halverson’s detailed article, about rainbow trout introductions and the unintended consequences (Chasing Rainbows), never mentions the true tragedy of this ecological predicament: the rampant poisoning of entire ecosystems to rid them of planted rainbows. 

The same flawed logic of single-species management used to plant the rainbows is now being used to remove rainbows, most often with a systemic poison, Rotenone.  Poisoning out non-natives in favor of a preferred native is euphemistically called, native fish restoration.  In fact, in many Western states today rainbows are being simultaneously stocked in some places and poisoned in others. 

Unfortunately, Rotenone doesn’t discriminate between non-native fish and native fish.  It doesn’t spare amphibians or insects.  It kills them all and monitoring data show some species never return.  Our company has long espoused the Hippocratic Oath of “first, do no harm” as it applies to ecological restoration.  We need a strong web of organisms on this planet, not just rainbow trout, or cutthroat trout, or yellow-legged frogs. 

Protecting and restoring healthy, functioning freshwater streams and wetlands to sustain a high diversity of organisms is a much more effective and economical way of conserving species.  Given half the chance, nature will decide when and where to chase the rainbows.

Read more: http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2011/11/chasing-rainbows/ or learn more about river, stream and lake poisoning http://www.stopriverkilling.org


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Evidence Mounts Linking Fish Poison with Parkinson’s Disease

Rotenone is a common agricultural pesticide, but is also the chemical of choice used in river poisoning.  Fish and wildlife agencies commonly use rotenone to rid streams and rivers of unwanted fish species in favor of native game fish species. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported another apparent link between the use of rotenone and an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The report cites a study by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, a nonprofit research institute in Sunnyvale, Calif.  More at http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/305/12/1188.1.extract

Montana, and other states in the West have programs underway dubbed “native fish restoration” that routinely use rotenone to remove all the fish in a portion of a stream, and then re-introduce fish of choice, usually cutthroat trout.  One Montana doctor captured the problem with fish poisoning in a letter to the editor that ran in several newspapers, where he laments not only the use of rotenone, but the use of potassium permanganate as an antidote to rotenone.  Dr. Vernon Grove pleaded in his letter, and we agree, “Please share your concerns with our governor, legislators, fish and wildlife departments, tourism and other agencies concerned with wildlife, nature, fishing, hunting and human health.”

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Native Fish Restoration: Codewords for Poison

A recent poisoning disaster on Cherry Creek near Bozeman apparently hasn’t slowed Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ commitment to poison additional pristine waterways in the name of “native fish restoration.” The agency announced that this summer it will target seven mountain lakes and 18.5 miles of stream on the upper Boulder River in an attempt to restore native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.

Unfortunately, the $40,000 project will eliminate more than targeted Rainbow trout and Rainbow hybrids. Non-target native fish, amphibians and insects will be wiped out during these poisonings as well. Research has shown that some species never return.  Public comment is being taken until June 20, 2011.

Read the full article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_fa50d3e3-4f7b-566a-962d-b30995338376.html?mode=story

Read the draft EA: http://fwpiis.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=50506

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What Should Be Done to Restore Native Species?

Over the past year, visitors to the EcoBlu blog have been reading about the “Native Fish Restoration” projects ongoing in Montana and elsewhere.  These controversial projects involve clear-cutting the aquatic ecosystem with poison and then restocking with a fish monoculture.  Increasingly, government agencies and conservation groups are promoting the 60-year-old practice as necessary to avoid species extinction at the hands of so-called “invasive” or  “non-native” fish.

It is widely known that habitat destruction is the single greatest factor contributing to the current global species extinction problem (Pimm & Raven, 2000, pp. 843-845), NOT threats by invasive species Habitat loss is due to growth of human populations including increased impacts resulting from agriculture and development.

Habitat destruction isthe process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity.”  If this sounds like a description for many ”native fish restoration” management plans,  it is.

The crude and outdated technique of poisoning waterways and stocking fish from hatcheries further damages these critical at-risk native habitats.  And while the technical simplicity of these “native fish restoration plans” may appear initially attractive, the poisoning/stocking efforts do not reduce habitat loss, do not reduce habitat damage, and do not diminish habitat fragmentation.

Clearly, our priority should be to do what was recommended by scientists writing in the Journal of Wildlife Management in 1997:  “Conservation efforts should be aimed foremost at stopping habitat loss and at habitat restoration.”  This solid and implementable native species conservation recommendation promotes biodiversity (and ecosystem integrity, resiliency and stability) ultimately helping to prevent extinctions.

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Unacceptable “Science” – Public Relations and Poison

The recent killing of 7 miles of Montana’s Cherry Creek, waters NOT targeted for poisoning, will likely become a watershed moment in a project long fraught by an unacceptable brand of “science.”

For the planned project, it seems that best management practices have only been applied to public relations: “poisoning” has been appropriately relabeled “treatment,” “fish migration barriers” are now called “invasive barriers,“ and “killing aquatic ecosystems then restocking with a fish monoculture” is referred to as “native fish restoration.” Sadly, our agency scientists and technicians have become schooled masters of double-speak in a brave new world where “down” means “up.”

Driven by expensive multi-year project budgets and a refreshed zeal to “restore” native fish species, the 60-year-old management practice of poisoning and stocking fish has a conservation buzz these days seemingly untarnished by its severe, lethal and collateral impacts.  Here the so-called “acceptable” damages to water quality, insect life, native fish species, and all creatures that depend on this ecosystem for their survival, bled into many miles of unintended water. Thousands of dead fish including those native to the system simply perished in the “accident” and those responsible at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks don’t know why or how the problem occurred.

Despite this and with the expected Monday morning spin, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks made it clear that the next phase of poisoning on Cherry Creek will occur on schedule, without pause, and without an assessment of either the unintended impacts or cause(s) for the incident.

Fisheries biologists at the agency need to learn lessons from other resource managers. Invasive species cannot be controlled by ecosystem “sterilization.”   Chemicals alone cannot be counted on as a solution to exotics. When environmental accidents occur, environmental assessment and then remediation are the important immediate steps. (Preventing similar environmental accidents in the future is the goal.)  Data, science, and humility are your friends.  Importantly, the best public relations won’t disguise flawed techniques, failed implementation, or damaged project sites.

It would seem that only hubris could prevent the thorough and careful review of this project’s plans, practices, and procedures.  And only the continued unacceptable “science” on Cherry Creek, driven by a confused blend of regulation, politics, and money, could make it all possible.

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Trout Project Kills Fish Not Targeted by Poisoning

Poison being used to remove fish from a section of Montana’s Cherry Creek persisted longer than expected and killed nontarget fish Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported recently in a press release.  The statement said fish were killed in the lower seven miles of Cherry Creek, a tributary of the Madison River southwest of Bozeman.  >READ MORE

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