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Science turns to DNA to help in pike comeback 

Associated Press

Biologists say they've mapped out a plan to restock two Great Lakes with a
species of fish thought to have died out more than 20 years ago.

Fisheries experts from the United States and Canada want to restore the once-
plentiful blue pike by isolating DNA from what they believe is a rare specimen
caught in 1989.

They hope to match the DNA to what are thought to be other scarce blue pike
still living in lakes in Minnesota and Canada, then reintroduce positively
identified fish into Lakes Erie and Ontario.

In what could prove to be the strangest breakthrough, DNA specialist Mary
Burnham-Curtis hopes to cull genes from mucus on blue pike scales filed in
envelopes half a century ago by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Blue pike flourished in Lake Erie at the turn of the century, becoming a
favorite of anglers until overfishing pushed them to the brink of extinction
in the 1970s.

Until now, scientists have had no way to positively determine whether a blue-
colored pike is a true blue pike or simply a blue-pigmented yellow pike, said
Dieter Busch, who heads the Lower Great Lakes Fishery Resources Office in
Amherst, N.Y.

He said the scientific world might have acted prematurely when it declared the
blue pike extinct in 1975, before DNA testing had been developed.

His team must prove that blue pike still exist before it can proceed with a
restocking program.

The blue pike and yellow pike are both part of the perch family, but blue pike
prefer much deeper water -- 60 feet or more -- than yellow pike and feed on
different prey.

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