Cootes Paradise is famous for a habitat restoration effort that includes barring carp from this 250-hectare wetland at the west end of Hamilton Harbour.

But also for vanishing male pike.

In a disturbing echo of recent news about gender-bending chemicals, a Royal Botanical Gardens aquatic biologist says male northern pike are hard to find.

At the fishway, a carp barrier at the mouth of the harbour credited with saving the marshland, only 27 pike per year pass through. (About 500 pike live in a cleaner system called Hendrie Valley.)

But at the fishway, crews found that about 77 per cent of the pike are female.

"We do know we have a serious problem," said acting head of conservation Tys Theysmeyer. Also, in 2003, he took females and males to a clean pond and they failed to produce baby pike.

"We did it a second year and it didn't work. So we said, 'OK, they look like males but aren't behaving like males,'" adds a man jokingly called a pike matchmaker.

The observations come amid news that chemicals in food wrapping, makeup and baby powders are feminizing males, in wildlife and in human populations. Communities polluted with the chemicals are reportedly giving birth to twice as many girls as boys.

Theysmeyer says a serious source of chemical outflow into Cootes is the Dundas wastewater treatment plant, which he says pumps out so much nitrogen fish eggs can't hatch near the sewage-outflow pipe into Desjardins Canal. more