Northern Sunfish recovery efforts on Tonawanda Creek

Contributed by Doug Carlson and Jim Haynes, Posted 8/3/23: Studies of Northern Sunfish (Lepomis peltastes), a Threatened Species in New York, in waters near Buffalo were most active from 2004-2014. An encompassing reporta of the findings was published by Dr. Jim Haynes (SUNY Brockport) and coauthors, and it concluded that this fish had become extirpated from western NY after 2009. It also recommended trying to restore Northern Sunfish using progeny of the Tonawanda Creek strain held in DEC hatchery ponds at Randolph, NY.  In a collaborative effort between DEC and Brockport, 3,100 Northern Sunfish were stocked in Tonawanda Creek in May 2023. Boat electrofishing in July recaptured 43 of the stocked fish near their stocking location, but not in other parts of lower Tonawanda Creek and the nearby Erie Canal. This is a favorable step toward recovery that might result in Northern Sunfish becoming reestablished in western NY. Additional sampling is planned for September 2023 and July 2024.

Male northern sunfish. Photo credit David Sanderson-Kilchenstein.

Sampling on Tonawanda Creek, July 2023. Photo credit David Sanderson-Kilchenstein.

aHaynes, J.M., D. Sanderson-Kilchenstein, J.A. Andres, D.M. Carlson, J.J Wright, B.R. Weatherwax, and J. Rinchard. 2023. Factors associated with extirpation of the last Northern Sunfish (Lepomis peltastes Cope, 1870) in western New York state, USA. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 38:1, 2193213,