Wyoming Waters to be Fully Stocked This Summer

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CASPER– Good news for Wyoming anglers. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced that waters scheduled to be stocked in 2008 should receive at least 90 percent of the original numbers requested despite finding whirling disease earlier this year at the Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery.

Fish culture personnel from all ten Game and Fish hatcheries and fish rearing stations were able to reallocate fish requests and adjust upcoming egg numbers to cover the majority of shortages.

“We were able to meet the vast majority of stocking requests by adjusting the present inventories at the other eight hatcheries, reducing existing numbers requested and adding fish into the system from spring eggs,” explained Steve Sharon, fish culture supervisor for the department. Schedules were also adjusted for 2009 because Ten Sleep Hatchery will continue to be out of production until sources of the contamination can be eliminated.

Although tests are ongoing to confirm the cause of the infection at the Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery, it is believed that surface water from nearby Ten Sleep Creek or Leigh Creek contaminated the hatchery water supply. Sentinel fish, a small number of fish used to detect the disease, have been placed at each of the four different spring sources used by the hatchery to determine which is infected with surface water. The sentinels will continue to be tested throughout the year to better understand contamination sources and direct remediation plans.

Once the source of infection is determined, protection of the hatchery’s water supplies will be the highest priority. Removing disease threats is extremely important to protect the Yellowstone cutthroat brood stock and bring the important egg incubation and fish rearing capacity at Ten Sleep back on line. The department has asked the State Building Commission to consider funding a capital facility proposal to renovate Ten Sleep Hatchery by July 2011.

Outside of maintaining the Yellowstone cutthroat brood stock and limited egg incubation, all fish production has been suspended at Ten Sleep until a full assessment is completed.

Fish from Ten Sleep had been transferred to Wigwam Rearing Station, Boulder Rearing Station and Tillett Springs Rearing Station. In all, a total of 477,500 fish of all sizes, totaling 21,500 pounds, were removed from production and euthanized at these facilities.  The majority of these fish were small fingerlings and fish that were to be grown and stocked in 2009.

“Clearly, the department will continue to make adjustments for future stocking,” said Sharon.  “Ten Sleep Hatchery plays a critical part in the overall hatchery system. The department cannot completely meet all anticipated requested numbers, sizes and types of trout for future fishing opportunities until the facility can be brought back into production.”

 Wigwam Rearing Station, which is located three miles west of Ten Sleep, was the hardest hit facility, with all of the fish lots transferred from Ten Sleep testing positive for the parasite. Limited production and stocking has resumed at Wigwam after intensive sampling for the parasite was completed. One spring water source, with possible exposure to stream water, has been separated from the facility as a precaution to be evaluated with sentinel fish over the next year. Until that supply is fully evaluated, full production will not be resumed at Wigwam. The Colorado River cutthroat brood stock population and one cutthroat lot transferred from another hatchery were certified pathogen free at Wigwam.

 Whirling disease was first detected in Wyoming in 1987. Since then, the parasite has expanded through natural means into all major trout drainages. The Game and Fish has been proactive in protecting hatchery water sources to eliminate the potential for disease introduction.

“Wyoming Game and Fish hatcheries have not knowingly stocked any positive fish, checking for the parasite through either biannual or annual inspections,” said Sharon. “It is our standing to be part of the solution, not part of the problem when concerning whirling disease or any other fish health issues.”