One of the few confirmed aquatic outsiders making their way into Yukon bodies of water are goldfish.
Apparently, parents unable to kill little Goldie have been releasing the fish in a pond at the Takhini Hot Springs.
Environment Yukon has had to net the fish. It’s also released predators to eat the goldfish. And its even released a fish toxin.
Still, the department continues to find goldfish at the site, said spokesperson Nancy Campbell.
While goldfish are not about to wreck havoc on chum salmon stocks any time soon, the department is bracing for a species that could make real headway.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency is giving the department $30,000 to study the threat of aquatic invasive species.
There are introduced species – like goldfish, rainbow trout and arctic char – which have very limited ability to spread in the Yukon’s cold climate.
And there are invasive species that could hurt fisheries, tourism and the environment, said Nathan Millar, the program manager for Environment Yukon.
The department believes there are no invasive species in the Yukon, said Millar.
“We think that’s true but we’re also not 100 per cent sure about that,” he said.
“We don’t have extensive monitoring in place.”
Didymo, an algae, is in the Yukon, but biologists are not sure if it’s invasive or native.
The study will look for threats by looking at research from nearby jurisdictions, like Alaska, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.
“It’s primarily a paper exercise,” he said.
Biologists want to know what creatures may come and what pathways might be used, said Millar.
Snakehead and whirling disease might be likely culprits, he said.
There’s also the dreaded zebra mussels, which have invaded lakes in Eastern Canada.
There’s a story going around town, that Millar can’t confirm, about a boat that passed through Yukon on its way to Alaska.
It was meant to be sold in the United States and it was stopped at the border.
The border guards, who are trained to find invasive species, found zebra mussels and turned it back.
“Apparently the guy came back to Whitehorse, washed his boat and went back to the border,” said Millar.
“So it’s not totally far-fetched to imagine invasive species coming here,” he said.
“On the other hand, we’re not sure the Yukon would be a good place for zebra mussels.”
The report should be done by the end of March, said Millar.
It will be contracted outside the department. (James Munson)