20,000 diseased hatchery fish will be killed


Mar 11, 2001
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May 29, 2003

20,000 diseased hatchery fish will be killed

Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau

The discovery of signs of whirling disease in a rainbow trout hatchery pond near Ten Sleep will force the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to destroy about 20,000 fish.

The disease was found during a routine inspection of fish in the five ponds at the Wigwam Fish Rearing Station, one of the largest trout spawning operations in the state.

Fish in one of the ponds tested positive for the parasite that causes whirling disease, which leads to deformities in young trout. It's unclear how the parasite got into the pond but no infected fish were released into the wild, said Jeff Obrecht, a department spokesman.

The other four ponds tested negative for the parasite, according to department officials.

Increased production at other Game and Fish hatcheries and private donations will fill the void, said Steve Sharon, the department's hatchery system supervisor.

"From these other sources we will meet our stocking goals this year," he said.

After this stocking season, all of Wigwam's earthen rearing ponds will be removed and replaced with concrete or fiberglass rearing ponds. The parasite that leads to whirling disease is unable to complete its life cycle in those types of containers, the department said.

"It was part of our 10-year plan to replace all the ponds with concrete or fiberglass, but this discovery is prompting us to accelerate that schedule as funding permits," Sharon said.

A sixth rearing pond at Wigwam has not been used since 2000, when it was drained after the whirling disease parasite was detected in fish being reared in it.

In addition to rainbow trout, Wigwam raises Yellowstone cutthroat, Snake River cutthroat and brood stocks of Kamloops rainbow and Snake River cutthroat.

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