Don’t Ditch the Fish!
One of the things that agitates me is the disposal of pets and animals. I'm not talking about if it comes to the point where animals need to be surrendered to shelters. Those are heart rending decisions that sometimes are made out of necessity. No, what I'm speaking of is the dumping of pets in the wild and abandoning them.
While I never gave much thought to fish being in that situation, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, it is an issue we face here in the beehive state. And it's not just pet fish being dumped, anglers in the state are moving fish from one waterbody to another. According to the DWR, that's also a problem.
After several recent illegal introductions, DWR is reminding Utahns that it’s both harmful and illegal to dump unwanted pet fish into local ponds or to move fish you’ve caught from one waterbody to another.
Each spring and fall, DWR biologists across the state survey various lakes and streams to get data about the fish in those waterbodies, including weight, condition and population numbers. However, this year, biologists discovered several fish that were illegally placed into several waterbodies across Utah.
Two of these were here in Iron County. Redside shiners were found in the Paragonah reservoir, and largemouth bass were taken out at Newcastle reservoir. Illegal fish were also found in Sanpete and Tooele counties.
When a fish is illegally introduced into a pond, stream or lake, it can have several negative effects on that fishery. The illegal fish species can prey on and out compete other fish species, including native and endangered species. The new fish can introduce disease because they were not properly tested before being dumped in to the water. New fish can also impact the quality of the water.
While it’s illegal to dump unwanted aquarium fish into a waterbody, it’s also illegal to move live fish from one waterbody to another or to take them home.
Anglers often think that when they move fish from one waterbody to another that they are introducing a species that will help improve the fishing at a pond, stream or lake. This is seldom true, and instead, these illegal introductions often ruin a fishery.
Utahns are encouraged to call 1-800-662-3337 to report any invasive fish they find, or if they see anyone illegally introducing fish into a waterbody or trying to relocate live fish. Utahns can also contact their local DWR office if they have unwanted fish or concerns about a fishery here in the state.
Learn more about this issue by visiting the “Don't Ditch a Fish” page on the DWR website.