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Cattaraugus Creek is focus of sea lamprey survey

IRVING – A survey of the parasitic sea lamprey will be conducted this month by federal wildlife experts near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced.

A survey crew plans to work offshore near the creek from Aug. 17 to 20 in Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties and gather information “to estimate abundance of lampreys near the mouth” of the creek, according to a news release. The results of the survey will help officials determine a plan for controlling the species.

Lampreys – an eel-like creature that latch onto the sides of fish and parasitically feed on their blood and body fluids – are an invasive species introduced to Lake Erie during the 1920s. Federal officials said an average sea lamprey can destroy up to 40 pounds of fish during its parasitic phase.

The lamprey also is at the center of a plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redesign the Scoby Dam on Cattaraugus Creek near Springville. The Corps, which hopes to lower the dam by roughly 30 feet to allow for the passage of fish species between the upper and lower Cattaraugus creeks, includes a barrier designed to keep the lamprey from reaching the upper creek.