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September 3, 2012

Lamprey treatments on Lake Champlain to commence soon

Annual program to control fish-damaging pest begins Sept. 10 on Saranac

PLATTSBURGH — Officials are concerned that low water in Lake Champlain tributaries may impact this year’s sea-lamprey treatment program.

But they still hope to complete the scheduled treatments in several rivers and deltas.

The effort is slated to begin with the Saranac River delta Sept. 10, where weather conditions will be the deciding factor.

“Low water (in Lake Champlain) is actually better for treating the delta,” said Bradley Young of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the multi-agency program.

“The lake is so low that there are fewer acres of submerged delta to treat.”

Lamprey larvae living in the muddy sediment of a river delta will move from an area that dries up and back into the shrinking delta, Young noted, helping officials to target their treatment to a smaller area.

“The only thing that would impact the (Saranac delta) treatment would be weather, high winds or lightning storms,” he said.

The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative, which includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, treats the Saranac delta once every four years.

GROWING NUMBERS

The delta continues to host a high population of lamprey larvae, despite successful treatments in the past.

“Female sea lampreys carry so many eggs, and it takes just one male to fertilize them,” Young said. “Even after successful treatments, it takes just a few individuals to replenish the population.”

Officials have not treated the Saranac River for many years because of low population numbers there, but recent surveys have suggested lamprey are increasing, and officials may consider treating the river in the future, Young said.

The Great Chazy River has traditionally been a hotbed of sea-lamprey activity, and more than 20 miles of the river from Mooers down to Champlain will be treated in October, if weather allows.

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