Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) are a species of freshwater fish native to North America. Their diet consists mostly of small fish and aquatic invertebrates (bugs), but they also are opportunistic feeders, meaning leaches are on their menu. Liberty Lake course staff worked with JUB Engineers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a plan to control the leach population in two irrigation ponds by introducing 600 bluegill to feed on the leaches. The goal of this project was to significantly reduce the leach population to eliminate issues they were causing to the irrigation system. In many cases, irrigation heads needed to be cleaned out on a daily basis to maintain functionality.
The project has been a tremendous success. The bluegills thrived on the diet of leaches and the problem was solved. Staff also undertook measures to reduce the PH in the ponds to levels unconducive to leach production.