‘Bucket biologist’ blamed for introducing fish into Utah reservoir. Why that’s illegal

A fish was introduced into a Utah reservoir that might spell disaster for the entire ecosystem, and wildlife officials blame a “bucket biologist.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recently discovered Utah chub in a body of water where the fish are not naturally present, meaning someone introduced them there, the agency said April 15 on Facebook.

Bucket biologists are people — sometimes anglers — who move fish from one body of water to another one, officials said. Whether they do so accidentally by dumping leftover live bait into the water or intentionally to move their preferred species of fish to a lake or pond that’s more convenient or closer to them — the practice is illegal in Utah.

It can upset ecosystems by introducing disease and disrupting the delicate balance of the species within it.

“Illegally introduced fish have the potential to outcompete or prey on other fish species, including native fish, sportfish and endangered fish,” officials said. “Bucket biology could also introduce disease into the waterbody because the fish and any water introduced have not been certified disease-free.”

Officials discovered the Utah chub during routine sampling at the Millsite Reservoir in central Utah, about a 160-mile drive south from Salt Lake City. The introduction must have happened in the last few years since they found several age classes in the sample, officials said.

Unfortunately, the reservoir is home to the bluehead sucker, “a species of greatest conservation need,” officials said.

“We have worked hard over the years to ensure Millsite’s ecosystem is a healthy balance supporting recreation and the bluehead sucker conservation effort,” officials said. “The illegal introduction of Utah chub has put it at risk.”

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