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Quebec Bulletin
December 2014 - January 2015/Volume 17/Number 6

The Presence of Grass Pickerel in Quebec Confirmed

Grass Pickerel, about 15 cm long, in a sampler's hand
Grass pickerel

During the summer of 2014, surveys by Fisheries and Oceans Canada captured about 30 grass pickerel in Quebec. This species had not been observed in the province in over 25 years. The fish were found in six tributaries of the south shore of Saint François Lake.

The grass pickerel is usually less than 30 cm long and is the smallest pickerel found in Canada. Its range is limited to North America, including Quebec and Ontario. Historically, this species was captured in three areas in Quebec: St. Louis Lake and its tributaries, the St. Lawrence River near Coteau-du-Lac, and a tributary of the north shore of Saint François Lake. The last time this species was captured in Quebec was in 1988 near Maple Grove, in the St. Louis Lake area.

Two samplers, up to their waist in water, lift up a net for surveying.
DFO J. Trottier
Simpling of grass pickerel

Surveys were performed in 2012 and 2013 in the historical range to see whether the species was present in Quebec, but no grass pickerel were captured. In the summer of 2014, further surveys were performed, with an enphasis on the tributaries between Saint François Lake and St. Louis Lake. According to Jacques Trottier, biologist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and field supervisor, "Fisheries and Oceans Canada's perseverance with these surveys allowed us to confirm that the species is still present in Quebec. Additionally and unexpectedly, we found the species at a site where grass pickerel had never before been reported."

These surveys were implemented under the Management Plan for the Grass Pickerel in Canada published in 2012. The grass pickerel was designated as a species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk under the Species at Risk Act in 2006. Other measures will continue to be implemented over the next few years to learn more about and protect the grass pickerel population in Quebec.

To learn more about this species, visit the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Jacinthe Beauchamp
Ecosystems Management

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