The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided comment to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources on the request to pump water from Red River to Cane River Lake. Operating the pump without the suggested 40-micron filter would dramatically increase the chance of infesting the Cane River Lake with invasive zebra mussel and silver carp. Introducing thesecould potentially halt or drastically reduce hatchery programs if they infest the Cane River Lake and the hatchery.
Zebra mussels are a threat to our community as they coat riverbeds, boats, docks, and water intake pipes with their sharp shells, damaging infrastructure and creating a dangerous environment for water-based recreational activities. Similarly, silver carp compete with our native fish for resources and pose a unique safety risk due to their unpredictable leaping behavior.
The introduction of zebra mussel and silver carp will have a significant impact on both the water chemistry and its productivity. These mussels and carp are filter-feeders, removing large quantities of nutrients that are essential for the species reared in this hatchery. We are prohibited from knowingly transporting or stocking fish or other species that are infected or exposed to waters with exotic invasive species.
The Service’s Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery plays a crucial role in propagating and releasing sportfish, providing substantial financial benefits for Louisiana. In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the hatchery raises and stocks a significant number of sportfish for the state (75% of stocked fish). Natchitoches is also unique in that it rears ESA-listed species such as the Louisiana pearlashell, a freshwater mussel found only in two parishes in Louisiana and raised nowhere else. Other threatened and endangered species reared at this facility include the inflated heelsplitter and gopher tortoise.
Since its establishment in 1931, the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery has played a pivotal role in addressing America’s aquatic resource needs in the region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to safeguarding water quality for both wildlife and humans, and dedicated to the prevention, eradication, and control of invasive species.