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Voracious foreign fish found in Sebago Lake


Voracious foreign fish found in Sebago Lake

By Kevin Wack, Associated Press


SEBAGO LAKE, Maine (AP) The discovery of northern pike in Maine's second-largest lake has sparked concerns that the predatory fish could overwhelm native populations of salmon and trout.

State biologists failed to find any additional pike on Tuesday as they used special equipment designed to stun fish and draw them into a buoy.

The survey followed last week's discovery of a mature northern pike in Sebago Lake by two regional fisheries biologists, one of whom recounted the incident in a weekly report.

''We were just about finished with our collections when we saw a large fish swirl, and a few seconds later we were stunned by what we saw in our net. This particular fish was a 29-inch, 5.6-pound northern pike!'' Jim Pellerin wrote.

State officials believe that the fish was illegally stocked in Sebago Lake or its adjoining waterway.

''Unfortunately, the people doing these senseless, illegal stockings either don't realize the ultimate consequences of their actions or what I fear more ... they just don't care,'' Pellerin wrote.

He added that based on limited sampling, officials suspect the pike was introduced fairly recently, and its numbers are still relatively small.

But the northern pike is a voracious species that, if it establishes itself in Sebago, could decimate the lake's population of landlocked salmon.

''They're a highly predatory fish,'' said Mark Latti, spokesman for state wildlife department, adding that pike have already decimated salmon stocks elsewhere in the state. ''And Sebago Lake is probably one of the most famous lakes in Maine for salmon fishing.''

Latti said the northern pike, which is not native to Maine, lives in some ponds in the central part of the state but had never previously been found in Sebago or its connecting waters.

State biologists plan to continue sampling Sebago this week to get a better sense of the problem's scope. And they hope to print posters to alert anglers to the discovery of pike.

Officials are encouraging anyone who catches northern pike in Sebago Lake to kill the fish, keep it for later examination, and then contact the state wildlife department.

They are also asking anyone with information about who's responsible for the illegal stocking to contact the department immediately.

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