Goldfish Invasion Threatens Colorado Ecosystem

Goldfish, thousands of them, are invading a lake in Colorado, and scientists don’t find it funny at all.

Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember the urban legends from the 70’s and 80’s – the one that said that there were giant alligators on the loose in the sewers of New York City. The alligators supposedly ended up there after irresponsible pet owners flushed the unwanted reptiles down the toilet, depositing them in the sewers where they lay in wait for you to cross over a loose manhole cover.

The goldfish problem in Colorado’s Teller Lake might not be quite so terrifying on the surface, but it is still a problem. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife service has deduced that an irresponsible pet owner deposited two or three goldfish into Teller Lake a few years ago, and now, the offspring of those few goldfish are taking over the lake and the region.

Experts estimate that there are now over 4,000 goldfish – which are definitely not native to the ecosystem – in the small, Colorado lake. The goldfish population now is in direct opposition to the native tiger muskies, catfish, and bluegills in Teller Lake, and experts say that the goldfish are a severe threat to the ecosystem and biodiversity of the lake.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife service say that Teller Lake isn’t the first victim of a goldfish attack. Reportedly, in 2012, over 2,275 large koi goldfish were discovered in Boulder’s Thunderbolt Lake, the result of someone throwing a few, or several koi into the water there.

So, now what? A spokesperson for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife service says that there are only two ways to remove the goldfish from Teller lake. The first is to use an electric shocking system to force the fish up to the surface where they can collect the goldfish with a net. If this method is used, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife service says that the fish will be used as food for the regional raptor rehabilitation center. The second, and more extreme method of removing the fish from Teller lake, would involve draining the entire lake of water.

In Colorado – and many other states – introducing a non-native species into a natural environment, (like dumping a goldfish into a lake or perhaps even putting an alligator in the sewer) is illegal. But more than that, authorities would like to remind the public that even tossing a few goldfish into a lake can have devastating consequences for the overall ecosystem and biodiversity of a particular area. If you can’t care for a pet in the future, please find a good home for it via a neighbor, family member or friend, or inquire at local pet shops about other solutions. Nature is a fragile thing. Please treat it as such.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]