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NFC: Re: Amateur pond stocking (cont.)...Long!

Hi all,

Just a note with a very different view on amateur/stealth/whatever stocking
of fish.

California has had such real disasters from privately-stocked ponds that the
laws (and local practice) have gone utterly wacko on collections of any
kind. As usual, govt. action has created just the opposite of the desired

You can't legally remove *any* "minnows" from the waters where they are
caught, alive. The conservationist/collector/observer, as usual, is the
hardest hit by the regulations. You should *see* the multi-page document you
need to legally collect anything live. The Dept. of Fish and Game folks very
kindly inform you that they actually intend to disapprove it, anyway, if you
aren't a Prof. at a major University with powerful political connections in
the Governor's office to boot. Don't bother to fill it out.

These actions have virtually destroyed the ichthyology departments that used
to be so strong in CA. [Jordan, Agassiz, Meyers, etc.] Our Biology Profs.
have to go to Mexico or farther south to collect fish, now, and even then
they have to put up with customs, etc., as easier than studying local fauna.
That means CITES essentially forbids study of *any* listed endangered or
threatened species from outside the US, so those just get no formal study
here. Students go elsewhere to study fish, now. California is a hostile
environment to all but the "pseudo scientists."

Floods, cyclones, hurricanes, and similar natural disasters will eventually
assure that anything you "plant" in your private pond *will* reach nearby
waterways. That's a simple fact of nature. The Carp in the Owens River,
White Bass in our reservoirs and a host of other introduced fish, like
*Lucania parva* all around SF Bay are testimony to the fact that it
eventually happens. Goldfish are a huge problem, in places.

A local sporting-goods store owner bought some ponds N. of Bishop CA and
stocked them with largemouth bass for sport, and the county arranged for the
same ponds to receive damnbusia. Neither was aware that the Fish Slough
region where they were introduced was the very last habitat of the Owens
Pupfish (*Cyprinodon radiosus*). [I believe there were also Dace there as
recently as the 50s.]

The results, 40 years later, are still a running disaster. This species
(*radiosus*) deserves study, for it tolerates a much wider temperature range
(it's farther NE) than any of its Death Valley cousins. It has a lot to tell
us about *Cyprinodon* adaptation and social adjustment to a most harsh

For the past 20 years, any recovery plan for *radiosus* has been successfuly
blocked by the squabbling between the City of Los Angeles (owner of most of
the land where they actually live, now), the BLM, the US Forest Service, The
US F&WL folks, the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, Inyo County, and UC's White
MT. Research Station. All seven stand to lose if the fish are not kept in
some jeapordy. Funds for "endangered species" dry up if they are declared
out of danger. Congress, in its wisdom, wrote that into the law!

I don't know if you noticed it, but of the thousands of species listed, not
one species of US fish has *ever* been delisted! The folks getting the money
are the ones deciding that issue. 'Nuff said?

"Pseudo Science" rears its ugly head in the west, via local government. Most
counties have some kind of mosquito abatement program. When *Gambusia*
species were determined to be a useless control, causing serious damage to
native species while eating almost no mosquitoes compared to those native
fish, the county agents formed a "Scientific" group to publish their own
papers and support their ongoing programs (which they knew how to do -- they
could actually *breed* *Gambusia affinis* ;-) ). Despite a huge volume of
quite valid contrary evidence, they keep their programs alive by publishing
papers that make natal astrology look credible, by comparison, and citing
their publications to keep up a horrid practice. Right here, Contra Costa
and Alameda Counties are still distributing damnbusia to all takers, without
regard to the damage to Speckled Dace, Steelhead, Shad, Chubs and other
native fish.

I am reluctant to keep any fish in an outside pond that I do not want to see
in the Niles River (where my storm drains empty). I suggest you consider the
consequences of a flood or hurricane on your local environment when doing
any outdoor rearing in immovable containers.

I would also like to see NFC taking an active role in stamping out
malpractice, like the damnbusia-stocking programs throughout the west. Our
Desert Springs Action Committee loses a few volunteers every year because
they joined to help fish, and killing thousands of improperly-introduced
exotics is most repugnant to them. It's *not* pleasant, but neither is
changing diapers. It just needs doing.

OK, Sermon Mode <OFF>


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot com

         "DEMOCRACY" is two wolves and a lamb voting on lunch.
     "LIBERTY" is a well-armed lamb denying enforcement of the vote.
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