Foreign Species Lawsuit Frequently Asked Questions


What Is an Ecosystem?
An ecosystem refers to the entire community of animals, plants, and micro-organisms occupying a given area and the physical habitats, climate, and geography with which they interact.  Diverse, complex ecosystems reflect biological communities and environments that have evolved together for very long periods of time.

Ecosystems exhibit such characteristics as food chains, predator/prey interactions, population controls and natural resistance.  Populations within an ecosystem tend to approach a natural balance, but that balance can be affected by changes in a single physical or biological condition.  These changes are historically very gradual and inconspicuous to the public eye.


What is the Status of Fish Communities in Spring Creek?
In 1998 the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) sponsored a comprehensive scientific assessment on Spring Creek using eight test sites. In 1994 Spring Creek Coalition adopted these same test sites for ongoing physical, chemical and biological data collection. In a cooperative effort Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Northeastern State University and volunteers inventoried and archived fish.

Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife (ODWC) surveyed fish in 1976 which included a few of the same test sites. Subsequent surveys by ODWC have focused predominately on “game” or “sport-fish”.  Current research concerns by agencies and universities are complicated by the presence and politics of trout.

Although there have been several aquatic surveys by various entities, there is no coordination of data and no trends have been developed. ODWC reports basically that Black Bass populations are excellent, relative abundance of Smallmouth Bass is higher than other streams in NE Oklahoma.  Smallmouth bass abundance in 2005 decreased due to reduction in quality habitat. “Abundance and body condition of smallmouth bass were excellent in 2005 indicating a quality smallmouth bass fishery exists.”  Largemouth populations are moderate but stable, Spotted Bass are very rare, Sunfish are abundant in Spring Creek and anglers have the opportunity to catch six different species including Shadow Bass (excellent), Green Sunfish (moderate), Longear Sunfish (low, compared to other NE region streams), Bluegill Sunfish (poor), Warmouth and Redear Sunfish (very rare).

Twenty-nine (29) non-game fish inventoried in 1994 are in question.  Diversity and abundance of fish and water seems to have diminished significantly since the 1976 survey.


What is the problem with stocking trout in Spring Creek?
1. Trout stocking is most appropriate in waters where they are native, or in waters that have been greatly modified from their natural states, such as cool tail-waters below deep reservoirs, where the native fish have been eliminated.  Spring Creek has not undergone major modifications and maintains, in fact, much of its natural character. Several non sport fish species maintain populations in Spring Creek.

2. Trout stocking is not appropriate in waters where the main objectives include conservation and restoration of natural states.  Scientists have documented that Spring Creek possesses high water quality and a high diversion of natural species.  Many landowners in the Spring Creek watershed and other Oklahoma value the creek’s natural qualities and have invested in their conservation and restoration.  Trout are not native to the Spring Creek ecosystem.  When stocked into Spring Creek, they prey and occupy space that would otherwise be available for native species.  Stocking occurs abruptly and upsets the natural balance that has been approached over time by the creek’s resident populations.  Trout move up and downstream from sites where they are stocked on Spring Creek; reaching places where they conflict with the management objectives of landowners regarding the creeks natural attributes.


Are potential biological impacts of stockings being adequately evaluated?
Potential impacts are numerous and include direct effects on species that become the trout’s common prey, plus indirect effects on native species that shift their natural choices in food and habit. As stated above, Spring Creek is home to numerous species of animals and plants, including some that are rare and/or have limited distributions.  The pre-stocking evaluations and post-stocking monitoring that have occurred in regard to Spring Creek have examined potential effects and have been deemed an inadequate basis for justifying future stockings.  The “2004 and 2005 Impacts to Spring Creek from introductions of Rainbow Trout on Spring Creek” was limited to:  Trout Distribution, Trout Catch and Harvest, Trout Diet & Body Condition, Water, Air and Soil Temperatures, Precipitation and Cooling Degree-days.  There was no consideration of any biological aspects native to Spring Creek.  This assessment as well as the Brush Creek Study concluded that “little conclusive evidence about possible long-term impacts from rainbow trout in Spring Creek.  In addition, many believe the burden of future studies to support stocking applications should be borne by those who benefit from the stocking, which has not occurred.


Have non-native trout caused problems in other areas were they were stocked?
National Geographic (March 2005) includes Rainbow trout as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world  (http://nationalgeographic.com/magazine/0503).  Trout Unlimited Policy opposes the introduction of non-native trout.  The American Fisheries Society has published numerous research documents on non-native trout/fish introductions and site impacts classified into five broad categories: habitat alteration, trophic alteration, spatial alteration, gene pool deterioration, and introduction of diseases.


What trout-angling opportunities are available in Oklahoma?
There are nine (9) streams and/or lakes in Oklahoma currently stocked with trout.