By Tami Watt, Editor & Shane Titus, Fisheries Manager
This year, the Seneca Nation Fish and Wildlife Department received an abundance of donations for their fish habitat program. Over 300 Christmas trees were donated from locals and various Home Depot’s around western New York to provide food, shelter, and a natural habitat for walleye fry and other assorted fish species.
According to Shane Titus, Fisheries Manager, the Fish and Wildlife Department has been recycling Christmas trees for over 10 years now in an effort to revive the walleye population in the Allegheny River and Reservoir. Twining and sinking pine trees to the lake bottom allows Shane and staff to release walleye fry and fingerlings in them to ensure safe harbor as they grow and disperse throughout the waters of the Allegany.
The trees serve as a barrier against larger game that may consume the fry and fingerlings but can also be useful for other aquatic life in the river and reservoir. Other species of fish and invertebrate utilize the same trees for their own benefits as well. Other species of fish (Crappie, Perch, White Bass, Pike, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Assorted Baitfish) ,both young and adult, will use the trees as shelter and as feeding areas on the outskirts of the tree limbs.
The Fish and Wildlife Department collect the walleyes, harvest the eggs, and fertilize them at their fish hatchery. The eggs hatch in roughly 28 days and are called “fry” but as they grow from fry to between 1- 3 inches they are called “fingerlings”. The fish hatchery is located in Red House, NY off I-86 just before the Allegany State Park entrance. The best time to see the collection of eggs and fertilization process take place is the last week of March through the first two weeks of April. Please visit senecaconservation.com or check out Seneca Nation Conservation- Fish and Wildlife on Facebook for more information.
If you are not an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation, you may purchase a fishing license one at these locations: Seneca Nation Clerk’s Office, Seneca One Stop, Antone’s 1, and even at a few places in Bradford, PA. Prices vary- Adults- $60, Minor- $25, Disabled- $10, Senior- $15, 3 day passes for $25.