All it takes is one.
Goldfish have been found in abundance in a lake south of Whistler after it’s believed someone released a pet goldfish or two into the waters sometime earlier this year.
The first fish was spotted Monday by a member of the stewardship group that looks after Pinecrest Lake.
“Releasing unwanted pets is not only cruel, it is also dangerous to the environment, as well as illegal,” said Clare Greenberg, the executive director of the Sea to Sky Invasive Council, which is helping to determine how to get rid of the invasive fish.
Goldfish are considered invasive species there because they are obviously not native to the area, they lack natural predators and they reproduce prolifically and grow dominant over the environment.
To make matters worse, the otherwise small fish maintains its size relative to its environment.
“So once released from the confines of their fish tank…, goldfish can grow to the size of a football, out-competing native fish for food,” the council said.
One approach being considered is to kill off all the fish in the lake using naturally occurring chemicals, then repopulate it with native species.
“You can imagine that this is an extremely pricey and unpopular option,” Greenberg said.
A less dramatic, but also less effective option is to try to reduce the goldfish population by sending an electric current through the water, causing them to swim towards the device where they can then be caught.
“With electrofishing, it is almost impossible to catch all the goldfish, and site-specific challenges like water depth and sediment type affect the feasibility of this option,” Greenberg said.
Meanwhile, officials are urging people to never release pets into the wild.