Caverns to Remove Exotic Fish from Rattlesnake Springs

Park staff will be removing non-native fishes and frogs from the rattlesnake Springs pond to restore native populations of fish.

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News Release Date: June 18, 2007

Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024

In a move to restore populations of native species, Carlsbad Caverns National Park staff, with assistance from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), will begin removing exotic or non-native fishes and amphibians from the pond at Rattlesnake Springs the last week in June.

Non-native species that will be removed from the pond include the green sunfish, the largemouth bass and the bullfrog. “The predatory nature of the non-native species is having a significant effect on the native species in the pond,” said park biologist Danielle Foster. “The smaller native fishes are having a difficult time surviving.” Native fish include the roundnose minnow and the greenthroat darter.

On June 24, the park will begin pumping all of the water out of the pond, keeping it as dry as possible for one week to ensure the removal of all non-native fish. Once half to two-thirds of the water has been removed, the park will work with the NMDGF to place any live fish in one of two holding tanks—one for native fish, the other for non-native fish. The native fish will be returned to the pond at the end of the project, and the non-native fish will be released into an aquatic system managed for game fish by the NMDGF.

In addition to restoring habitat for native fishes, park staff will complete much needed maintenance repairs to the pond and irrigation infrastructure once the pond has been drained. Once all maintenance repairs have been completed, the pump will be turned off and the pond will refill. Depending on flow rates, the pond will take 24 to 48 hours to refill.

For more information, contact Bridget Litten at 505.785.3024.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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