Anglers should check their bait for non-native mosquitofish.
A keen-eyed angler spotted something unusual in his bait bucket that led to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently citing a Vermont baitfish wholesaler, Hog Island Wholesale Bait and Tackle in Swanton, for illegally importing unapproved fish species into the state.
Non-native “mosquitofish” are native to the southern U.S. but have been introduced outside their native range with negative effects on native fish and water quality. It is expected that Vermont’s cold water temperatures will prevent the mosquitofish from surviving and reproducing here, although they have survived as far north as New York City.
After finding mosquitofish in the original bait shop’s tanks, department game wardens and fisheries biologists conducted an inspection of Hog Island Wholesale’s distribution center in Swanton and confirmed the presence of the prohibited mosquitofish mixed in with fathead minnows originating from McCallie’s Fish Farm in Carlisle, Arkansas.
In addition to criminal charges, Fish & Wildlife revoked Hog Island Wholesale’s importation permit for McCallie’s Fish Farm and oversaw the destruction of approximately 700 pounds of fathead minnows and 250 pounds of rosy red minnows originating from that fish farm.
Eric Palmer, Director of Fisheries for Vermont Fish & Wildlife, said these steps were taken to protect the health of Vermont’s native fish populations and aquatic ecosystems.
“We take the protection of our fisheries resources seriously,” Palmer said.
Knowing that other shops purchased bait from the same supplier, state officials ask that shops and anglers inspect bait and dispose of any mosquitofish that are found. “The watchful eye of the angler who first noticed and reported the mosquitofish is much appreciated,” Palmer said.
To report a fish and wildlife violation, contact Vermont Fish & Wildlife at 1-800-75ALERT (800-752-5378), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.