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Midwest Region
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Matt Lipps and Rebecca Neely in a Bayer Analysis Trailer. The trailers serve as portable labs and can be taken into remote areas during lampricide treatments. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Jenna Tews)

Matt Lipps and Rebecca Neely in a Bayer Analysis Trailer. The trailers serve as portable labs and can be taken into remote areas during lampricide treatments. (Photo by Jenna Tews/USFWS)

Recapping the 2013 Sea Lamprey Control
Field Season – Lampricide Control

The 2013 Sea Lamprey Control Program field season came to a finish with many successes and we would like to highlight the remarkable work accomplished by our staff. This year, sea lamprey control staff out of the Marquette and Ludington biological stations worked around the clock, many working 10 day shifts, to reduce the impacts of the invasive sea lamprey on the Great Lakes ecosystem and carry out their mission.

Our employees work in one of three program areas of sea lamprey control:  larval assessment, lampricide control, and adult assessment and barriers. Each area has a different role in facilitating the decline of sea lampreys in the Great Lakes, but collectively, they work together to keep this voracious parasite at bay.

The lampricide control team is an important piece of the sea lamprey control puzzle. Employees in this team apply federally registered pesticides to streams that are infested with larval sea lampreys, particularly, those that contain large numbers of larvae that are at least four inches long. Our lampricide control team doesn't work your normal 9-5. Instead, they often work 10 days straight to complete a single treatment on one stream. The teams run their applications for 12 hours straight, working around the clock. This means a shift could start at 4:00 a.m. or 11 p.m. In the first few days of treatment, employees travel to a stream, and begin collecting information that will allow them to determine how much TFM (a larval lampricide) they will need to apply in order to kill the larval sea lampreys. 

This information includes measures of water discharge, alkalinity and pH. When necessary, they will also estimate flow times and dilution rates by applying a dye directly to the water. The dye simulates how the lampricide will distribute throughout the stream and the time it will take to travel from point A to B. The team often works with local landowners to get access to private or remote areas of stream to treat sea lamprey infested waters.

By the numbers, here is just a brief glance at what the lampricide control team was up to during 2013:

  • Number of landowners we worked with in the 2013 field season:  298
  • Number of streams treated with lampricide: 47
  • Miles of streams treated with lampricide: 1,227
  • Number of lentic areas treated: 8 (totaling 67 acres)
  • Number of employees on the lampricide control teams: 23 from Marquette Biological Station and 17 from Ludington Biological Station
  • Geographic area of coverage in the Great Lakes: 8 states
  • Total miles traveled by staff to conduct lampricide treatments: 842,472

The lampricide control team treats streams from northern Minnesota to the southern tip of Wisconsin, east to Buffalo, New York. All treatments happen during the short field season that lasts from April through October. In addition, we receive valuable assistance from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Sea Lamprey Control Centre, whose expert staff often work directly with the Service to conduct treatments. Successful lampricide treatments are certainly a team effort and are the foundation of sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes, making this unit critical to the program’s mission.

-- Joanna Gilkeson

External Affairs




Last updated: January 16, 2014