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Fish results encouraging in Yellowstone River

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Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ biologists again surveyed the Yellowstone River between Livingston and Springdale. Results were encouraging – fewer dead fish and stable flows and water temperatures.

“Though we still don’t know if the cause of death is disease related, we’re finding fewer fish each time we go out,” said Travis Horton, FWP Region 3 fisheries manager. “We’re not considering any closures or restriction, but are asking that anglers not target whitefish for the time being.”

On Tuesday, biologists collected 20 dead whitefish, 13 that recently died and seven that were older. The found no moribund fish, which is a live fish close to death and critical for histology testing to determine the cause of mortality.

Last summer a proliferative kidney disease, or PKD, outbreak on the upper Yellowstone River led to an emergency closure by FWP and the death of thousands of mountain whitefish, which are native to the river.

During monitoring floats this week and last, FWP biologists have found about 165 dead whitefish.

PKD is caused by a microscopic parasite known to exist in the Yellowstone River. Though the reason the parasite will suddenly begin causing PKD is unknown, high water temperatures, low flows and general fish stress seem to be factors. With cooler water temperatures and higher flows, those conditions aren’t present this year.

Test results from the moribund fish collected last week are expected to be available later this week.

Courtesy FWP

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