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White perch are native to the Atlantic coast region of North America. They were accidentally introduced into Wilson and Cheney Reservoirs as contaminants in fish stockings but have since been moved by the public. Until this week, white perch were known to be present in Wilson and Cheney reservoirs; the Ninnescah, Arkansas, and Saline rivers; Hoover Pond in Kingman; Kingman State Fishing Lake; Lake Afton in Sedgwick County; Sedgwick County Park Lakes, and Carey Park Pond in Hutchinson.
"This was entirely preventable," KDWP’s invasive species specialist Jason Goeckler said. "We will probably never know that exact origin of this introduction, but it is likely that white perch were introduced to El Dorado by anglers, either as bait or a purposeful introduction. Anglers must be aware of the negative impacts white perch will have on a fishery and take precautions to prevent their spread."
In an effort to curb the spread of this harmful species, KDWP made it illegal to possess live white perch several years ago. There are signs at most boat ramps warning anglers and boaters about the dangers of transporting invasive species, as well as detailed information in the 2009 Fishing Regulations Summary and on the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us.
White perch have been associated with declines in both walleye and white bass populations, and they feed heavily on baitfish needed by other species. White perch can out-compete native fishes for food and space, and they will hybridize with white bass.
El Dorado Reservoir is now home to two infamous invasive species. Zebra mussels infested the 8,000-acre reservoir in 2003. Both species will have profound impacts on the aquatic community, as well as the people who fish and boat at these reservoirs.
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