The American eel is an endangered species in Ontario. Make sure you do this if you catch one from the Ottawa River.
A group of friends discovered a surprise on the end of their fishing line June 13 while fishing a stretch of the Ottawa River at Britannia Beach – a wriggling American eel. Once a common sight on the river, the population has plummeted by up to 98 percent over the years.
“That’s always really exciting for us to hear,” said Meaghan Murphy, a staff scientist with the Ottawa Riverkeeper. “Their populations on the Ottawa River have plummeted … in the last 30 or 40 years, mostly as a result of dams and their inability to access these waterways.”
It should be noted that all eels caught should be promptly released.
The Ottawa River has a total of 21 dams and only one offers safe passage for eels. This takes a toll on the species during migration.
So what should you do if you happen to catch an eel? Make sure you take a photo and contact the Ottawa Riverkeeper, the Canadian Wildlife Federation or the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to report the findings. The same advice applies if you come across a dead one.