Extermination Of Invasive Species Planned For Virgin River

Mar 18, 2014

Wildlife authorities in Arizona and Utah are considering a plan to kill off an invasive fish species to protect another fish in the Virgin River. Officials plan to meet Wednesday in Mesquite, NV to discuss a plan that would involve using the chemical Rotenone to kill off the intrusive red shiner.

Officials are scheduled to meet this week to discuss the extermination of Virgin River invader, the red shiner.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Virgin River Representative Steve Meismer said the invasive species was released into the river in the 1970’s and has threatened the survival of the Virgin chub and the rare woundfin, a 4-inch minnow found in no other part of the world.

"We know that our native species will not persist in the presence of red shiner, and so we've got to get rid of them, and this is really the only way we can," said Meismer.

Meismer said the chemicals will most likely be introduced into the environment in June if the plan is implemented because of the fewer chemicals needed with low summer river levels.

Meismer says Rotenone only affects animals with gills and that ample precautions will be taken to preserve the native species.

"We salvage as many native fish as we can, and we've typically found that we're about 80-85% effective in that salvage," said Meismer. "[We] move them outside of the area to be treated and then we'll do the treatment and we can move fish back in, [or] we can wait for them to swim back in on their own."

The red shiner is a fertile species with one female able to produce 10,000 offspring in a single year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.