Bear Lake National Refuge

Bear Lake National Refuge at sunset

Carp. The notorious ‘hogs with fins’ churn the Bear Lake wetlands into a muddy bog as they feast in the river channels. The carp population exploded 200 years ago and biologists still fight to keep them out of the refuge. “Here we have a species with no predators and making the most of it,” says Mike Fisher, Bear Lake refuge biologist. “They’re having a great time at our expense.”

Fifteen screens costing $10,000 a piece are in place among the refuge dike system to keep carp out, but after 40 years of carp control, only 60 percent of the refuge is carp free.

Even though the aggressive fish does significant damage to the waterways, the refuge still hosts several colonies of Franklin’s gulls and white-faced ibis. ”The healthy nesting Carp swimming on the surface of Bear Lakecolonies are proof that birds feel welcome at Bear Lake,” Fisher says. “The wetland and marsh habitats are disappearing at a high rate so besides being valuable, they’re getting to be more and more limited. Wherever you have them, it’s critical to try to preserve them.”

Land preserved at Bear Lake was once the old Dingle swamp. It shrank to 17,000 acres before being declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1968.

Bear Lake waterfowl hunting season