KENAI — An electric fence and water cannon will be part of an effort this summer to control invasive northern pike in a lake on the Kenai Peninsula.
The electric fence experiment will be conducted at Derks Lake this June, the Peninsula Clarion reported Tuesday. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is working with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association on the project.
The electric fence is part of a multi-year project that has been looking at the effectiveness of various methods to control northern pike, including water cannon. Fish and Game biologist Pat Shields said water cannon has proved effective in herding northern pike or even killing them.
Pike are fish-eating predators that live in highly vegetated, shallow areas where they can ambush prey. Their presence has left some rivers, streams and lakes on the peninsula devoid of silver and king salmon and rainbow trout populations, Fish and Game says.
Other methods that are being tried to remove the fish include gillnetting, draining lakes or using the fish-killing chemical rotenone.
Officials are hoping the two technologies combined might result in an effective method for controlling or eradicating populations of northern pike on the Kenai Peninsula and other areas across Alaska, Shields said.
This summer’s work will include netting off an area in the same lake where biologists have been conducting pike control experiments.
The electric fence will be placed in such a way as to force the pike to have contact with it.
“Will they go past the electrical fence, is their behavior predictable, is it something that we can observe and see if they do everything under their power to avoid it?” Shields said.
Amy Shaw, a biologist for the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, said the electric fence technology might have a number of other applications for removing or corralling pike.
“It could be used to corral fish in a certain area. Potentially you could set up gillnets across one side of it and herd them into the gillnets if you are trying to do mass removal from a spawning bed, or, you could potentially keep them out of certain areas for some periods of time,” she said.