koi ban in Maine?

sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)July 26, 2006

What the heck is this??

Restaurant Owner Shaken by Koi Seizure

By Associated Press

Tue Jul 25, 3:19 PM

FREEPORT, Maine - Armed game wardens seized 10 exotic fish from the tank of a popular Chinese restaurant, leaving its owner shaken and outraged.

"They treated me like a criminal," said Cuong Ly, who escaped from Vietnam 25 years ago. "I lived under communism and I felt like I'm back there again."

Ly, 45, said his pet koi were like family members and their confiscation in what he described as a heavy-handed raid made him "want to explode inside."

After obtaining a search warrant, two uniformed wardens and a biologist, accompanied by Freeport police, visited China Rose on Wednesday, taking away the 10 fish that ranged in size from 12 to 14 inches (30.5 to 35.5 centimeters).

The koi had been on display since Ly opened the restaurant nearly 15 years ago and he credited them for bringing good luck to the business in a way akin to the arrangement of articles in the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.

A few years ago, however, Maine outlawed the importation and possession of koi, and Ly was charged with importing freshwater fish without a permit.

"These fish can grow to be very large," said Sgt. Tim Spahr of the Maine Warden Service. "And when they grow out of their indoor habitat, they may be taken to a lake or a river or stream, and what you have is an invasive species that can compete with the native fisheries."

Spahr said wardens had acted in response to a tip but he could not comment on the specifics of Ly's case while it was pending. The warden said he personally had been involved in three koi seizure cases within the past year.

The confiscation, Ly said, followed two days of warden visits to the restaurant in downtown Freeport. On July 17, he said, a warden warned him that the fish were illegal and he could face a big fine.

"We thought they were joking. We had these fish for years and we didn't take them serious," Ly said.

A warden who arrived the next day with a video camera issued Ly a summons.

That incident, according to Ly, came during the business lunch period and he told the warden that he did not have time to talk just then. The warden left, only to return the next morning to confiscate the fish.

"It looked like they were raiding the place for illegal drugs," he said. "They made it seem like a crime scene."

The koi were transported to the Little Shop of Pets in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which agreed to let Ly buy them back.

Ly, which planned to place his koi with a relative in Boston while awaiting the final outcome, said he could not bear losing the fish.

"It's like someone taking your dog or your cat away," he said. "These are like my children. I clean the tank every other week, keep them nice and healthy, clean and happy. As long as the fish are happy, I'm happy, and I do good business."

After the koi were removed, Ly placed another fish species, red parrots, in the restaurant tank because leaving it empty would give him an unlucky feeling.

Even so, he said bad luck struck the restaurant soon after the loss of the koi.

"The central air conditioning went down this weekend," he said. "It's an unlucky feeling already appearing in my business."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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note to self: Don't move to maine!! Freaks! (gov't that is!)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 1:39PM
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This is outrageous. I'd sure be talking to my state reps about it and if nothing could be done, I'd move the heck away from that state!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:14PM
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Sweet, fancy Moses! That's just crazy. I feel pretty bad for Ly!

I tried doing a search for anything related to illegal ownership of koi in Maine, but they must have it buried.

Everyone is so worried about their koi making it through cold winters, I'm surprised that they could survive and thrive if let loose up there! Let alone the fact that all of the people I've seen post here at GW freak out when they can't find them in their ponds. I can't imagine they'd let them loose in the wild because they got too big. More like sell or give them away to someone who can care for them.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 4:07PM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Gawd yes... to think wildlife officials in MAINE, of all places, would think koi could thrive in the wild there... GEESH!

Did they become a problem?

I'm guessing they didn't, rather some legislator with an agenda and lots of influence got this law passed, and once passed, state wildlife officers have to enforce it, so they make the best case for it... and what they said is true, assuming the koi can safely overwinter, but how many people are dumping these expensive fish into natural waterways??? I mean, once they get big, they're worth BIG DOLLARS!

But if you think THIS is ridiculous, the state of Tennessee just this summer outlawed SALVIA, i.e. sage... Yes, the ENTIRE GENUS...

I saw on the local news that a story was coming up about Tennessee outlawing a common, longtime, backyard flower. I figured it would be Brugmansia (angel trumpets), since some people smoke the leaves of that for a "high," supposedly (I haven't tried it, nor do I know anyone who has, so I can't really say)... However, when the story came on, it was Salvia... The state's reasoning was that people can smoke the leaves for a high, and some people are growing it and harvesting the leaves for that purpose...

Once again, legislators proved ignorance in the law easily trumps common sense. If one visits a website Erowid.com, which specializes in information about this sort of thing, it talks about this. There is ONE SPECIFIC SPECIES of Salvia called Salvia divinorum, from which the leaves can be dried and smoked, according to Erowid, but even THAT species has to be specially cultivated and processed, according to the website, to produce anything "worth" smoking.

It's likely somebody verging on hysteria with only limited information but LOTS of influence got the Tennessee legislature all riled up on the issue, and most legislators -- particularly STATE legislators -- being only slightly more educated than the average garbage collector -- they just outlawed the entire Genus.

So for the time being, nobody in Tennessee can grow or sell ANY of the Salvia species -- even the perennial bush types, like my beloved "Hot Lips," I guess.

Don't ya just LOVE politicians???

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 5:07PM
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ok, what is wrong with this picture? the are illegal in maine, yet they take them to a pet store? to hold untilthey could be used as evidence? they are illegal yet he could buy them back?

first, sounds like harassment. second, he shouldn't have to buy back his own fish!

i suspect it has to do with the asian carp and being "related."

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 8:24AM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

Well, the urban legend website does not discredit the AP story. I can't believe this. Either the fish are illegal or they are not. And even if they were declared illegal recently, you'd think owners of more than a decade and a half would be grandfathered in so they could keep their pets. And harassing a minority business owner, taking his fish and offering to sell them back to him... just doesn't ring. I'd love an update.

Here is a link that might be useful: snopes.com

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:46AM
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On a side note, the only thing I could find about the Salvia issue in TN is that, as of July 1st, only S. divinorum is banned. I couldn't dig up anything that says ALL Salvias are banned.

I have to admit, after hanging out on the Salvia forum for a while, most people's experience in trying to grow S. divinorum is limited. In other words, it's not too difficult to get it to root and establish from cuttings, however, it becomes harder to manage and care as it gets bigger. It rarely flowers or sets seed, and it's not very pretty, anyway. :)


    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 12:11PM
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"ok, what is wrong with this picture? the are illegal in maine, yet they take them to a pet store? to hold untilthey could be used as evidence? they are illegal yet he could buy them back?"

The pet store the fish were taken to is located in New Hampshire, where koi are not banned. Therefore the guy was able to buy them back. He's keeping them in Massachusetts, so he didn't bring them back to Maine. Still crazy though. Don't know how the store owners could justify making the guy pay for them. They probably got them for nothing...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 1:04PM
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oooh, thanks for the explanation, autumn! interesting, still...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 1:00PM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

I don't see how the New Hampshire store owner could justify charging this guy to get his fish back, either -- at least no more than the cost of feeding and keeping them for however long he had them until the guy got there to retrieve them. I'd have a little more ethics than that, and I'd certainly think most people in the pet trade should, since they're supposedly animals lovers if they're in that business.

As for the Asian carp issue, that TRULY IS a nightmare. I saw a story about it on Discovery HD recently, about how they're migrating up the Mississippi and its tributaries and the serious lengths they're going to by running electric current along the bottom of the canal that leads from the Illinois River to Lake Michigan to try to make sure they don't get into the Great Lakes.

An Illinois fisheries biologist was videotaped and interviewed as he drove his boat through the river with outriggers running small electric currents into the water to get the fish to jump out so he could net them, weigh them, estimate their numbers and so forth. Some of them were HUGE and he'd caught one female that had 7 pounds of eggs, alone, in her, yet all he could do was take his stats and put them back (I'd think they'd destroy the ones they caught).

He DID say that unlike the ugly orange carp people fish for in carp lakes around here, these are supposedly good eating fish, and they're trying to encourage people to fish them for food to try to reduce numbers, but that they're so prolific, there's little chance they'll ever be eliminated, as they've pretty much taken over the rivers.

I'd also note they looked NOTHING like koi, and I think the relationship is pretty distant (although I'm guessing if koi and goldfish can interbreed, koi and asian carp probably can, too). These fish were big and ugly, though.

Frankly, in the kind of numbers they exist in the Mississippi and its tributaries, if there's a chance that releasing koi into the wild in ANY stream or river could create such a nuisance, I'm surprised they're not illegal EVERYWHERE. We don't have any Mississippi tributaries here, or in the Northeast, like in Maine, but I think there are just a half dozen major river systems around the country, and if anything that prolific gets released into any of them, it will likely take over the entire system.

Just imagine swimming Kudzu, or for those of you unfamiliar with Kudzu, swiming, water hyacinth that doesn't die when it gets cold.

THAT'S what Asian carp are in American rivers! :(

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 2:52AM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)


It's clearly a true story. That NH pet dealer had to find room for and feed 10 large koi. Very possibly he had to set up new digs for them, so I can see his charging Ly to get them back, as animal shelters charge owners to reclaim their stray pets. $700 seems a tad steep though.

I can believe Maine has made koi illegal. There's a big sign on the Maine Turnpike instructing those hauling boats to remove all plant material from their boats and trailers. I suspect koi could do well in Maine's natural waterways in spite of the cold. They suffer in the cold in small, artificial habitats, but in the wild the temperature and water chemistry shifts are much more gradual. Plus there's a steady supply of fresh, clean water. Besides, not all of Maine is frigid. Some of the coastal region is zone 6.

Lots of things are legal in NH that are not legal in surrounding states. I hope it stays that way.

BTW, if those koi were bringing the restauranteer so much luck, how could the troopers come in and confiscate them? I guess they only had power to keep the AC running.



    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 12:17PM
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I know that if I had a dog (or 10) for 15 years, and they decided to pass a law stating my dogs were illegal, and they subsequently confiscated them, I would not only be sad but pretty p.o.'d, as well. Especially if I kept them indoors with no chance to be let loose into the wild.

It's pretty ridiculous when laws are used sweepingly and without regard for circumstances. IMO.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 8:40AM
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