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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Living off the Land
Tuesday, July 27, 1999
Fish kill fails to eliminate sheepshead minnow
By ROSIE FLORES
They're back! The dreaded sheepshead minnow that
was "supposedly" killed off last year at the Balmorhea Lake has made
"At this point there's nothing really that we can do,"
said Fisheries Research Biologist Dr. Gary P. Garrett.
In August of last year, the lake was drained and a fish kill held
by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The action was designed to protect the endangered
Comanche Springs Pupfish, which had been threatened by the introduction
of the sheepshead minnow to the lake over the past several
years. The sheepshead minnow is an aggressive fish that has
been breeding with a variety of pupfish in West Texas lakes and rivers
in recent years.
Rotenone, a chemical designed to eliminate all fish in the
lake's remaining waters, including the sheepshead minnow, was used
to kill off the lake's eight million fish, most of which were
Rotenone is the most commonly used compound for treating
lakes. Many steps were taken to isolate the treated water and minimize
the risk of potential impacts to other waters and wildlife.
Rotenone does not "suffocate" the fish as was long
believed. Instead it inhabits a biochemical process at the cellular level
making it impossible for fish to use oxygen in the release of energy needed
for body processes.
After the minnows had been killed off, the pupfish was
returned to Balmorhea Lake. At least officials thought all of the
troublesome minnows had been eliminated until a recent check revealed the fish
had somehow returned to the lake.
"We don't know exactly what happened, why they're back,"
said Garrett. "There's no explanation for why the sheepshead minnow
has returned, but we'll keep on re-stocking the lake for the next
three years as planned."
Garrett said the lake had been stocked this spring and will
continue to be re-stocked with bass and catfish. "This will do a lot of
good and help get rid of those fish," he said.
Boll weevil foundation concludes initial phase
Extensive employee training continues in all new boll
weevil eradication zones. Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation
employees are already taking their previous and newly acquired knowledge to
the fields. The on-going training provides growers who fund
their boll weevil eradication program with knowledgeable and
qualified program personnel.
"The training process helps all employees develop and
sharpen skills and competencies in a number of different arenas," said
Program Director Osama El-Lissy. "These areas include training in
entomology, agronomy, treatment protocol, safety, management and
computer skills," added El-Lissy. "In
addition, specialized training is provided to those employees who have
job functions that require particular knowledge, such as in the areas
of environmental monitoring, airport recording, trapping or
ground spraying," El-Lissy added.
Field Unit Supervisors (FUS) manage up to 40,000 acre units.
Their jobs include the day-to-day implementation of
program operations. Each FUS undergoes more than 110 hours of
"The Foundation utilizes technology and methods
that weren't available until recently, and as a result, we provide training
not only to all new employees, but even those who have been with
the Foundation from day one," stated El-Lissy. "We are always on
the lookout for ways to improve the program, making it as cost
effective as possible for our producers."
Program personnel have recently been active placing boll weevil
traps around cotton fields in the new eradication zones. The bright
green traps provide important information that determines relative boll
weevil population densities in each field. The actual spraying process
will commence during the diapause phase in mid-August when
aerial applicators will begin treating cotton fields.
In 1995, SRP program personnel trapped 846,080 weevils the last
week in June. This year during the same time period the number was 157
weevils, a 99.98 percent reduction. In addition to the reduction of boll
weevils, there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of
pesticides used in the zone.
Early eradication results impressive
Cotton growers in Texas are celebrating July with more
than fireworks because the pesky boll weevil is being efficiently
eliminated from many cotton growing counties in Texas.
Growers in the Southern Rolling Plains Eradication Zone
were the first to become involved in boll weevil eradication in 1994. Since
the inception of their program, weevil populations have been
virtually eliminated in the nine-county region surrounding San Angelo.
"I've farmed cotton in this area for 21 years and we're
definitely happy to be seeing cotton yields like this," said Eola
producer Kenneth Gully. "We're pleased with the investment we've made in
our program and very proud because it's already paying real
dividends, and allowing us to compete in the cotton marketplace," added
Gully. "I would urge all growers who don't have an eradication program in
their area to examine the evidence and I'm sure they'll find that this is the
only affordable way to grow cotton. Growers in weevil-infested areas
will continue spraying, decade after decade on their own, unless
they choose eradication that provides an organized and uniform method
of control. That's the only way to permanently end the
weevil problem," Gully advised.
In The Desert
By Jim Allen
I have been asked to write a column for the paper
each month discussing hunting/fishing conditions,
hunting/fishing problems, and hunting/fishing laws. I hope it will prove to
be helpful as you're enjoying the outdoors.
My past couple of trips to Red Bluff Lake have
been interesting. With all of the rain in the Orla area, it seems to be
a totally different lake. The pastures look healthy and the lake
has had a definite rise.
Many of my contacts at the north end of the lake have
been lucky in their catches of channel catfish. I've received a
few reports of some white bass catches.
There are still many recreational boaters on the lake.
Please keep in mind the water safety laws. If the boat is being pulled
out of storage for the first time this summer, be sure to inspect
the equipment. Personal Flotation Devices and fire extinguishers
are two items that can deteriorate while in storage.
Balmorhea Lake has also benefited from recent rains. In
the past couple of weeks, I have observed good catches of
channel catfish. Some stringers with 20 to 25 fish have been spotted.
I have also observed a nice stringer of channel catfish and
inquired about the bait used. The boys responsible for the stringer
said that the ham sandwiches packed for lunch were better for
bait instead of consumption. The ham was removed from the
bread and used as a very productive bait. I've heard of some
very strange baits, but this was a new one to me.
As a game warden, there is nothing more rewarding
than showing a child how to fish. Seeing the many children on
the lakes this summer has been very enjoyable. With the
summer coming to a quick close, try to get a child out on the lake to
fish. Children are our future, and teaching them how to respect
nature and its inhabitants will be our greatest resource for a clean
and better environment.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise