Why are Goldfish in our Local Rivers?
A Facebook post from the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper recently made waves on social media. The nonprofit, which advocates for the protection and health of freshwater sources in Western New York, posted a picture of a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employee holding a 14-in. goldfish caught from the Niagara River.
“Goldfish can survive year-round in our watershed and can destroy the habitat of native fish,” the post read. “Scientists estimate that tens of millions of goldfish now live in the Great Lakes. If you cannot keep your pet, please return it to the store instead of flushing or releasing it.”
The reason these goldfish end up in lakes and rivers is because many older cities around the Great Lakes and in other parts of the country discharge sewer water directly into local water sources. Once in the water, goldfish are an invasive species that disrupt the native fish population.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Jennifer Fee, marketing director at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, explained that goldfish have no natural predators in habitats like Buffalo’s.
“Without a natural predator, they’re winning all the competition for food and resources,” said Fee. “They’re winning, they’re lasting longer and they’re continuing to live and grow.”
Pet retailers can bring awareness to this issue by posting about it on social media and accepting goldfish donations. By offering an easy and cruelty-free alternative to customers who feel they can no longer care for their aquatic pet, retailers can demonstrate their compassion and concern for even the smallest animals.