Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game have a battle on their hands, and their opponent is none other than a fish. Esox lucius which goes by names such as the jackfish or simply the northern pike has established itself in several mountain reservoirs according to an article from the Christian Science Monitor. Northern pike have not yet made a strong impact in California, but the fear that this fish will spread spurs ongoing movements to eradicate this fish from its current habitats in the area. The general consensus is that due to the carnivorous nature of the northern pike, native species such as the salmon and steelhead trout will be devoured if the species is to spread to the delta of the Sacramento river, where conditions favor the northern pike over the native competitors. Officials have tried everything from electrocution to poisoning entire lakes to halt to movement of the northern pike westward. Even with all this effort, the northern pike is still at danger to spreading throughout Northern California.
Previous instances of the spread of the northern pike show just how destructive this species can be. Of the lakes where it is already active in Northern California, its success has been so spectacular that the only solution to stabilize native ecosystems is completely poisoning entire lakes. Scientists speculate that this species has the capability to wreak havoc on the native ecosystems of the Sacramento River waterways in California, so if it were to ever make it across the Sierra Nevadas, it would open up a can of worms for local ecologists. What issues would arise still remain unclear, but it does not take much effort to imagine the consequences of a collapse of Northern California’s freshwater ecosystems. Although there is a small chance that the species will not create as big of an impact as is expected, the risk is too big to take. If efforts now can save a major ecosystem from destruction, the investment is well worth it. Steps must be taken to adequately protect virgin freshwater ecosystems from invasion of northern pike. If not, Northern Californians will most likely have an ecological disaster on their hands.
Ultimately, the northern pike appears to be not as well understood as it should be. Scientific research thus far has focused mostly on the northern pike in other habitats. Not much information exists on how it would fare in Northern Californian waterways. It is important that ecologists can fully understand the consequences that this species poses so as to combat its progression west accordingly. If this can be done, and this species understood in the light of it invasive nature, significant advances can be made in preserving existing waterways in California, and through that can protect the current stable ecosystem.