Alaska Bass? State Investigates Catch of Non-Native Fish

Alaska Bass? State Investigates Catch of Non-Native Fish
Alaska is investigating the rare catch of a largemouth bass. (ADF&G Facebook)

The report of a caught Alaska bass has the state scrambling to find out how it happened.

Not surprisingly, catching a black bass in Alaska is pretty big news, but perhaps not for the same reason you might think.

The report of a juvenile bass being caught Monday at Sand Lake near Anchorage had the state making plans to never let it happen again. The warm-water fish, popular among anglers in the Lower 48, are not wanted in Alaska. 

So, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking resident anglers to keep an eye out for the non-native fish and remove the fish from the water if one is caught.

The agency released this statement:

Bass are not native to Alaska, and it is illegal to transport live fish anywhere in the state. It is not known if this is an isolated incident, or if there are more bass in the lake. Biologists are quickly mobilizing to determine if other bass can be found by using gill nets and rod and reel methods. Early detection of potential non-native species is key if eradication efforts may be necessary. 

The agency said on Facebook that the bass was believed to be either a largemouth or spotted bass. How it got there isn't known.

A "Wanted Dead" flyer, with a photo of the bass, was included with the Facebook post."This is the first time we've learned of bass in Sand Lake," fisheries biologist Kristine Dunker said. "Our primary concern at this time is to determine if there are others, and more importantly, if there is evidence of a reproducing population. Over the next several days ADF&G staff will be concentrating their efforts on Sand Lake to evaluate if other bass are present, and if additional efforts will be needed to remove them."
 
Only salmon, rainbow trout and Arctic char (all native to Alaska) are the only fish species stocked in the lake, and Alaska Fish & Game asks anglers who suspect they've caught a bass to "please kill, keep the fish, and report it immediately to ADF&G. Do not release it back into the water live."
 
The agency added in its Facebook post: "Illegal introduction of exotics, such as bass and other warm water game fish, pose numerous threats to native stocks through introduction of parasites, disease, and predation.
 
If these fish are capable of reproducing, they could naturally expand their range in open systems or be illegally transported and stocked into other systems similar to how Northern pike have invaded and decimated some salmon systems in Southcentral AK."
 
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