05/01/2015 10:59 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT

B.C. fishermen offered reward for catching pike

The provincial government is offering fisherman in southeastern B.C. a reward if they catch pike in the hopes it will stop an influx of the invasive species to the region.

It's called the Pike Reward Reward Program.

"What we are asking people to do is bring the head of the pike they catch and kill on the Columbia into our Castlegar Front Counter office during regular hours," said Matt Neufield, a fish biologist with the province.

"We want to know a little bit about where pike are being caught and learn a bit more about distribution and angler catch."

Each pike head submitted to the program will earn fisherman one entry into a draw for four prizes of $500 retail credit at local sporting goods stores.

Neufeld says pike has become a growing problem over the past five years as they slowly make their way downstream from Montana, where they were illegally introduced about 40 years ago.

He says pike are very good predators who consume large numbers of fish every day, which threatens native species like rainbow trout, white fish and Kokanee.

The program is part of a larger pike control project along the Columbia river that began last year. While Neufeld says it is too early to gauge the full impact pike could have, it is essential to take preventative measures now.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is that we potentially have the ability to change course here and have a beneficial impact on the native fish population of the Columbia."

To hear the full interview with Matt Neufeld, listen to the audio labelled Pike Reward Program