Fish biologists sampling burbot on Moyie Lake
Fish biologists will be busy catching and releasing burbot on Moyie Lake from Feb. 11 to 22, for hatchery egg collection.
This project is part of recovery efforts for the Lower Kootenay burbot population, which was once a popular sport and subsistence fishery in Kootenay Lake and Kootenay River, as well as throughout their range in Idaho and Montana.
The population was recognized to be at risk of local extinction during the mid-1990s. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is working collaboratively on recovery efforts with international partners, including the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the University of Idaho.
Since 2009, as part of the Lower Kootenay burbot recovery program, fertilized eggs from Moyie Lake have been successfully raised in a hatchery in Idaho and released back into Kootenay Lake and Kootenay River.
Egg collection targets for this year include collecting five million to seven million fertilized eggs from up to 25 families. All fish will be tagged and released back into the lake after sampling.
The ministry continuously monitors the Moyie Lake burbot population, as it is a popular sport and subsistence fishery as well as a crucial part of the Lower Kootenay burbot recovery program.
Data collected over the duration of this program has confirmed that Moyie Lake has a healthy burbot population, which is comprised of approximately 10,000 spawning burbot, noted the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Survival of the spawning population has remained relatively constant at approximately 83% since this program began in 2009. Throughout the program, an average of 360 fish have been handled per season, and biologists collect approximately 0.02% to 0.03% of Moyie Lake’s available eggs per year.
Starting in 2022, the ministry will collect eggs exclusively from the Kootenay River stock. The current population target for Kootenay Lake is 20,000 burbot by 2028, which will involve releasing approximately 60,000 juveniles per year.
Members of the public can help refine population estimates by calling 250 354-6333 when they catch a fish with a tag. In addition to the tag number, include a description of location and accurate length, weight and sex of the fish.
The ministry will continue to provide up to date information regarding this fishery annually until the termination of this program.