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Carp removal at Pelican Lake

Help restore bluegill populations by removing carp on May 15

OURAY — Biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are asking anglers and bow hunters to help them remove destructive carp from Pelican Lake.

Hundreds of carp in Utah waters.

Carp are causing major problems in Pelican Lake.

Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

If the weather cooperates, the removal project at the water in northeastern Utah will happen May 15.

Trina Hedrick, regional aquatic manager for the DWR, says the agency has committed shocking boats, nets and traps to the effort.

"Our efforts alone should make a fairly good impact," Hedrick says. "But we want to remove even more carp from the lake — a lot more."

That's why anglers and bow hunters are needed.

"We're hoping anglers and bow hunters can bring their boats and equipment to help us out," she says. "If you can't make it on May 15, please try to visit Pelican Lake at some point this year. To restore the bluegill populations, carp need to be removed throughout the year."

The staging area will be at the main Bureau of Land Management boat ramp on the southwest corner of the lake. Activities start at 9 a.m. with a short introduction and general instructions.

Those who can help will be considered a DWR volunteer for the day and will need to sign in.

For more information, call the DWR's Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.

Weather dependent

The removal project is highly dependent on the weather. Biologists have identified a short window when carp will be the most vulnerable to nets, shocking and archery fishing.

As the water warms, Hedrick says carp move into the shallows to spawn. "A few warm days will heat the water enough so they'll move in," she says. "Cold days reverse the process."

Hedrick says it will take about three days of warm weather to bring the fish in. Specifically, the following is needed: Two or more days of 60 degree-plus weather immediately before the event, and a prediction of 65-degree plus weather, with no rain or snow and winds less than 10 miles an hour, on the morning of May 15.

Why remove carp?

In 2009 and 2010, changes in management upstream flushed a heavy load of carp into Pelican Lake. The carp have flourished in their new home. Unfortunately, their feeding habits and breeding potential are strangling the productivity of the lake.

Hedrick says carp compete directly with bluegill and small bass for food. "They are notorious for rooting up vegetation as they look for macroinvertebrates and insects in and around the plants," she says. "These food sources are extremely important for young bluegill. In addition, carp will consume large zooplankters (small, free-swimming/floating animals) that are important for adequate growth in larger bluegill."

The rooting the carp do also stirs up the mud. Stirring up the mud cuts down on visibility and the distance sunlight can penetrate into the water.

"We've noted a one-meter decline in visibility since carp entered the lake," Hedrick says. "Reduced sunlight inhibits plant and plankton growth. That, in turn, reduces the food sources that are available. And it makes the remaining sources more difficult to find."

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