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Wildlife officials will use fish-killing chemical to get rid of Cuddy Pond goldfish

Alaska Department of Fish and Game sport fish area management biologist Jay Baumer explained on Tuesday that they will use the chemical rotenone to eradicate illegally introduced goldfish from a man-made pond at Cuddy Family Midtown Park starting Wednesday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

The goldfish of Anchorage’s Cuddy Family Midtown Park will be eradicated with poison Wednesday, according to officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

An estimated 150 illegally introduced goldfish, likely abandoned pets, in the park’s Cuddy Pond will be killed using a chemical called rotenone, said Jay Baumer, a sportfish biologist and area manager with Fish and Game.

After unsuccessfully trying to manage the goldfish with nets and electrofishing, biologists were increasingly concerned after watching spawning behavior this spring. Baumer is more confident in the lethal effects of rotenone.

Goldfish swim in a lake at Cuddy Park on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

“It binds to the gills of the fish and it keeps the fish from absorbing oxygen,” Baumer said Tuesday at a press conference at Cuddy Pond. “It will only impact the fish in here," he said. That would include any small fish made as a result of spawning this spring.

“It’s a natural chemical we’ve used in a lot of other different lakes,” Baumer said. He estimated that it would be in the water for about 10 days and said rotenone is safe for birds and mammals that live around the pond.

Fish and Game sport fish invasive species biologist Kristine Dunker posted signs at the man-made pond at Cuddy Family Midtown Park on Tuesday asking people to stay out of the water during treatment as they use the chemical rotenone to eradicate illegally introduced goldfish starting on Wednesday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Cuddy Pond was originally built for flood management and has been isolated from Fish Creek, Baumer said. The pond will be reassessed for goldfish and chemicals before being reconnected to Fish Creek.

Fish and Game officials will be around to monitor rotenone levels and capture the fish after they die, said Baumer. The park will be open and signs about the eradication are posted around the pond.

“It’s really a shame that these pets ended up in here, and maybe they could have been re-homed or taken care of properly so that it doesn’t start to affect our wild resources,” he said.

Wildlife officials have been aware of the goldfish in Cuddy Pond for two years, Baumer said.

Dumping non-native fish in Alaska’s waterways is illegal and can lead to penalties including a criminal misdemeanor charge and a $10,000 fine.

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