DNR dyes Menasha Lock canal to fight off round gobies

Published: May. 25, 2017 at 8:50 PM CDT
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Memorial Day weekend boaters will notice something different about the water in the Menasha Lock canal.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources added a non-toxic yellow-green dye Thursday morning in effort to fight off the invasive round gobies.

The DNR says the dye is not harmful to fish or other organisms and will not stain boat hulls.

There are no goby in the canal. This test is to make sure that water from the nearby Fox River, which does have gobies, doesn't have a pathway letting them bypass the Menasha Lock and get into Lake Winnebago.

Between the Menasha Lock canal and the Fox River is an old, industrial island that has changed industries over the years. The DNR believes the island may have underground pipes running between the two bodies of water.

"We don't know if there's any connecting pipes that might serve as a goby pathway into the waters of the canal, which are essentially Lake Winnebago," the DNR's Rob McLennan said.

If the dye gets through, the DNR says it will work with the property owners to identify the pipes.

"We will contact the property owners and try to do an assessment of the pipe to see what condition it's in, whether it's currently in use for any industrial purpose or whether it can be sealed permanently. So, each one will be a little bit different we'll have to deal with," McLennan said.

Round gobies, native to the Black and Caspian Seas, have been known to force out native fish by eating their eggs.

"We are working on a variety of fronts to prevent the spread of harmful species into the Lake Winnebago system," DNR fisheries biologist Kendall Kamke said. "Creating an invasive species barrier at the Menasha lock is part of that effort. Even more important is an informed and conscientious public taking all necessary precautions."

The DNR says the dyeing is not expected to interfere with boating during the holiday weekend. However, the colorful dye could linger in the water for a few days and add a colorful backdrop to outdoor recreation.