Invasion Of The Pennsylvania Hired Killer Hit Fish!

Go ahead, make Mother Nature’s day

The New Mexico Game and Fish Department bought 120,000 tiger muskies with multiple rows of razor-sharp teeth and dumped them in two western New Mexico lakes. They can grow to several feet in length. They have been known to bite catch and release anglers.

These hybrid predators from Pennsylvania are growing in Quemado and Bluewater lakes. A wire service story called them “hit fish” or “hired teeth.” The idea is they will eat the overpopulation of suckers and goldfish.

A few years ago the department dragged five tons of goldfish out of Quemado lake. Common goldfish multiply alarmingly in New Mexico waters. Which raises the question: what about the hired killer fish from the east? Will the lakes be infested with tiger muskies? Not to worry. They are sterile.

At least that’s the word from Game and Fish. But the department can make mistakes.

Take the hatchery at Pecos. It reopened this spring after two-year overhaul because of whirling disease (which itself is a mistake). The new rainbows were growing fine until a worker turned the wrong valve and deprived them of oxygen. There went 230,000 rainbow trout, belly up. But not to worry again. The department will just buy more from its supplier in Missouri. The company already ships 3500 pounds a week New Mexico.

I wonder from these numbers if there are any native fish left in New Mexico. The impression is the fish are something like hydro-tomatoes. Or artificial. I’ve heard of local anglers that know when the weekly plant trucks are coming by and follow them. I’ve heard there are Rio Grande cutthroat in very high mountain streams, which is to say wilderness. The explanation is they are only safe there from the unnatural selection of rainbows.

Introducing non-natives is a risky business, even in the plant world. Take the tamarisk, or salt cedar. The brushy tree was imported to the arid west from Asia about 100 years ago — some say by railroads. The idea was to control erosion on stream banks. Now in thousands of desert canyons the tamarisk has choked out the native willows and other vegetation.

Sen. Pete Domenici last week introduced legislation to fund a demonstration project in salt cedar eradication. (His purpose is to conserve water, not wilderness.) A mature salt cedar can deplete 200 gallons a day. Domenici’s news release did not mention this, but one idea is to import a beetle from Asia that is known to devastate Asian tamarisk. The unresolved question is what else it might eat.

As the Hopi and Godfrey Reggio always say, Koyaanasquatsi. . .