Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fisheries Experiment Station

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What is DWR doing to fight whirling disease?

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In 1991, the DWR discovered Whirling Disease in Utah in a series of private hatcheries and adjacent waters in the Fremont river drainage of Wayne county. Initially, an attempt was made to eradicate the parasite by removing fish from those streams and reservoirs for an extended period of time. That effort proved unsuccessful and since then, the parasite has been found the in several private hatcheries, one state hatchery and waters in Cache, Weber, Beaver, San Juan, Summit and Sevier counties.

These and other discoveries have since refocused the DWR's efforts toward control and containment. In some areas, the DWR has installed barriers to prevent the spread of infected fish. The agency has closed state hatcheries near affected streams to visitors, except by appointment. State hatcheries are tested every 6-12 months to ensure they remain free of the parasite. Stocking policies have changed from the less- resistant rainbow trout to the more-resistant brown trout in contaminated stream.

The DWR's Fisheries Experiment Station continues to conduct ongoing research to determine the impacts Whirling Disease parasite on wild trout populations and ways to help prevent its spread. Part of this effort includes surveying new waters annually to determine the extent of the whirling disease parasite throughout the state.

In addition, DWR is initiating an education campaign with the help of Utah Trout Unlimited to educate the public about whirling disease. Signs on streams and lakes to alert anglers to the dangers of spreading the parasite, informational brochures and videos will all be part of the campaign.

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