Wildlife officials using electric shockers and nets began this week plucking endangered and threatened fish species from the Virgin River in preparation for a poisoning treatment.
An 18-member team from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Wildlife Resources Division and the federal Bureau of Land Management is trying to clear wound fin minnows and Virgin River chub from a 21-mile stretch of the river.The fish-recovery work, which is expected to last all week, is the first part of a project aimed at ridding the waters of unwanted red shiner fish, believed introduced by fishermen using it as bait.
Biologists say the red shiners compete for habitat with the wound fin minnows, an endangered species, and the threatened Virgin River chub.
After removing the protected fish, wildlife crews will poison the river with rotenone in two treatments - the week of Sept. 12, and again the week of Oct. 24 - said Denise Knight, of the state division.
"Hopefully, there won't be anything left in the river," said Knight.
The plan also includes construction of a 6-foot-high barrier on the river near the Washington Fields diversion dam to prevent red shiners from moving upstream.