Rapt attention

Thursday, May 25, 2017


I have lived on the Santa Margarita River for twenty eight years and was in the next valley over for the preceding ten. I am very lucky as it is a wonderful cañon to live in. I know the area well. I daresay as intimately as anyone. It is populated by a large range of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals, from beavers and puma to deer and turtles. We used to have a breeding pair of herons across the way. For years. And I haven't seen them in ages, and I only rarely see osprey now. Why is that?

Last year the CCC sent people out to clear the Santa Margarita of what they consider non native fish. The river has a bunch of fish including an indigenous red eyed bass. You can find a list here from the state.

I am not sure how successful they were but I think it has harmed the native balance and affected the native bird population that depend on fish. They thrive on  fish like blue gill and bass and yes, even carp.  I personally think it is rather stupid that this is all being done for a southern steelhead that hasn't been seen in these upper parts for fifty years, the last specimen on the Santa Margarita supposedly sighted in 2003 near the ocean. A fish that purportedly got lost.

There are supposedly less than 500 of these fish left on the earth, unfortunately. And due to a variety of reasons, including ground water extraction and dams, they just can't make it up here anymore.

In the 1960's they stocked the river with rainbow and brook trout, at the mailboxes at the end of my road actually. But the powers that be were afraid that they would breed with the "phantom" steelhead so they curtailed the stocking. Wouldn't be the first time that a bunch of academics with good intentions fail to see the ramifications of their handiwork while they elevate one species above another.

An interesting old blog on the subject from Southland Beaver here. Would love to consider other points of view.

Love the steelhead but love all the other animals too. Primum non nocere.

red eye bass

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