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Sea lamprey larvae control planned for early April

SPRINGVILLE — United States Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will apply lampricides to Cattaraugus Creek, in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties, to kill sea lamprey larvae, which have burrowed into the stream bottom.

Applications will be conducted through April 5, in accordance with state of New York permits. The application will be complete in about six days.

Application dates are tentative and may be changed, based upon local weather or stream conditions near the time of treatment.

Sea lamprey larvae live in certain Great Lakes tributaries and transform to parasitic adults, that migrate to the Great Lakes and kill fish.

Failure to kill the larvae in streams would result in damage to the Great Lakes fishery. Infested tributaries must be treated every three to five years, to control sea lamprey populations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency have reviewed human health and environmental safety data for lampricides, and in 2003, concluded that the lampricides pose no unreasonable risks to the general population and the environment, when applied at concentrations necessary to control larval lampreys.

The public is advised to use discretion and minimize unnecessary exposure. Lampricides are selectively toxic to sea lampreys, but some fish, insect and broadleaf plants are sensitive.

People confining bait fish or other organisms in stream water are advised to use an alternate water source, because lampricides may cause mortality among aquatic organisms. Agricultural irrigation must be suspended for 24 hours, during and following treatment.

Extensive preparations are required for a safe and effective stream treatment. Prior to treatment, personnel collect data on stream water chemistry and discharge.

In addition, they may conduct on-site toxicity tests with lampricides and stream flow studies with dyes that cause stream water to appear red or green.

Lampricides are carefully metered into the stream for approximately 12 hours, and continually analyzed at predetermined sites to assure that proper concentrations are maintained as the lampricides are carried downstream. Applicators are trained and are certified by regulatory agencies for aquatic applications of pesticides.

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