Illegally introduced Burbot in New Fork River
by Wyoming Game & Fish
November 5, 2006
(Pinedale) - Fish biologists are concerned over the recent discovery of a burbot in the New Fork River south of Pinedale. The 19.5-inch long fish was discovered last month during routine electro-fishing sampling to estimate fish populations.
Burbot, also called ling, eelpout or freshwater cod, is an odd-looking, eel-like fish that is actually native to the Big Horn and Tongue River drainages of northern Wyoming. Unfortunately, the species have since been illegally introduced to waters west of the Continental Divide.
Burbot were first documented on Wyoming's western slope in the Big Sandy River in 2001, and appeared to quickly spread to the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Fontenelle Dam should have isolated the upper Green River drainage from these populations, but burbot were then found in Fontenelle Reservoir last fall. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department believes this discovery was most likely due to a separate illegal introduction somewhere in the upper Green River drainage. In addition, an angler has since provided an unconfirmed report of a burbot being caught in Fall Creek, south of Pinedale.
Young burbot tend to eat aquatic insects, but adult burbot are voracious predators that almost exclusively prey on fish. "Our concern here is two-fold," says Pete Cavalli, Pinedale fisheries biologist in Pinedale. "First, our native fish (trout, whitefish and nongame species) in the Green and New Fork River drainages will have to compete with juvenile burbot for food and space, and then also avoid being eaten by larger burbot."
Starting in 2006, new regulations went into effect in the Green River drainage (including the New Fork River drainage) in an effort to reduce the effects of illegally introduced burbot. All burbot caught in this drainage must be killed immediately, and the creel limit is 25 per day or in possession. In addition, the Game and Fish has increased enforcement of laws related to illegal transportation of live fish.
"Unfortunately, the burbot population found downstream from Fontenelle Reservoir has expanded rapidly, so we anticipate they will do the same above the reservoir," said Cavalli.
Anglers are urged to report any burbot caught west of the Continental Divide to the Game and Fish. In addition, any illegal transportation or introduction of live fish should be reported to the Stop Poaching Hotline (800) 442-4331. (
GAME & FISH CALENDAR
Thursday, November 9, Pinedale: Upper Green River Basin Local Sage Grouse Working Group, Pinedale Library, 9 am.
ASK THE GAME & FISH
Q. "Are there any regulations for hunting crows?"
A. Yes. In Wyoming, the crow season is Nov. 1 - Feb. 28. They may be taken only by firearms, bow and arrow or falconry. There is no bag limit and no license is required. This season applies to crows only. A similar species, the raven, is protected. On page 5 of the current late Migratory Game Bird Regulations is a drawing of a crow and a raven to help hunters distinguish between the two species.