How a team of conservationists poisoned a pond full of black-market fish to save a threatened salamander population

Originally posted on National Post | News:

Chris Firth-Eagland, head of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, was alone on a midnight walk near an inauspicious pond in a protected oasis when he stumbled upon a group of men with spotlights, fishing nets and enormous plastic bags, caught in the act of harvesting carp from the water.

It was, he realized instantly, the solution to a distressing mystery: how the sensitive, protected, public pond and another one nearby – two of the few remaining homes for an endangered species of salamander – had become so infested with invasive carp that the rare amphibians had all but disappeared, especially since the pond had no connection to any stream.

To Mr. Firth-Eagland, it was now clear: someone was stocking the pond as a black market breeding pool in a commercial fishing operation, with the koi carp likely being sold either as ornamental fish stock or as food to restaurants.

Outraged, he…

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