ATTENTION OHIO BAIT DEALERS!|
Bait dealers are advised to check minnow supplies and destroy any western banded killifish, a minnow-like fish about 3 inches long. This baitfish started showing up in bait stores across the Ohio Lake Erie shoreline this fall. Apparently commercial wholesalers have netted killifish and included them in shipments of other baitfish trucked to Ohio.
The killifish is a state endangered species and it is illegal to possess them in Ohio except for educational or scientific purposes.
"We do not want that genetic stock from outside Ohio released into Ohio waters because it may threaten the native populations," said Randy Sanders, aquatic nuisance species specialist for the Division of Wildlife.
"It's a problem and it's indicative of a bigger problem. The killifish instead might have been a more serious pest such as the round goby or the ruffe."
The Eurasian ruffe has taken over Duluth harbor and is also present in Thunder Bay and Lake Huron. No one knows what affect individual invader species may have on the Lake Erie ecosystem, but it is feared a ruffe explosion could possibly destroy the yellow perch fishing.
The Division of Wildlife has sent letters and an identification sheet to bait shops, dealers, and wholesalers across the lakeshore.
Ironically, several killifish were found in a seine off Gilbraltar Island about the same time the fish began showing up in local bait stores. They were once abundant in Lake Erie, but declined dramatically between 1920 and 1950. The species is abundant farther north.
For more information, contact Randy Sanders at (614) 265-6343.