Trout stocking deaths in Pennsylvania – 10/15/2005

  • November 22, 2013 at 3:04 am #1054

    Trout stocking deaths a mystery

    Thousands of fish die when placed in lakes
    Saturday, October 15, 2005
    By Deborah Weisberg, Special to the Post-Gazette

    Thousands of trout went belly-up yesterday at four area lakes,
    including North Park Lake, after they were stocked for fall fishing.

    About 5,000 rainbow trout trucked in from Tellico Trout Farms of
    Franklin, N.C., were dead or dying hours after they were put in North
    Park Lake and at Upper and Middle Deer lakes in Allegheny County, and
    immediately after being planted at Lower Hereford Manor Lake in
    Beaver County, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat
    Commission, which monitored the stockings. Another 700 trout destined
    for Raccoon Lake in Beaver County were euthanized on the truck.

    The cause of the deaths is a mystery and until it is solved, future
    deliveries from Tellico, including another 25,000 this month, are on
    hold, according to Fish Commission spokesman Dan Tredinnick. Tellico
    sells more than 100,000 fish a year to the Fish Commission, the bulk
    of them rainbow trout for fall and winter stockings, mostly in lakes.

    “I don’t know what made these fish unhappy but we recognize we’ve got
    a serious problem,” Tellico manager Tom Ort said. “Lakes turn over at
    this time of year and I’ve seen bizarre things happen. But those fish
    were healthy and strong and robust coming off the truck.”

    Ort and the Fish Commission have suggested that a difference in PH
    levels between the truck water and the lake water may have been the
    culprit because trout are vulnerable to fluctuations in water

    “That’s pure speculation, but we’ll be looking at it,” Tredinnick
    said. “Water pollution is unlikely since this has happened at four
    different lakes.”

    So, too, is a disparity in water temperatures, he said, because
    testing, at least at Hereford Manor, showed that the difference
    between the tanker water and the receiving water was just four
    degrees, which is well within the 10-degree range allowed. More
    sampling of all four lakes will be done along with forensic
    examinations of fish, and it may be a week or two before biologists
    determine the cause of the deaths.

    Though the bulk of the 4.2 million trout the commission stocks
    annually comes from state hatcheries, the Tellico fish are part of a
    five-year pilot project to determine whether buying some stock from
    private contractors is feasible. Tredinnick said there has never been
    a problem with Tellico fish in the three years the commission has
    been dealing with the company.

    While the majority of yesterday’s fish were 10 inches, hundreds more
    were so-called premium trout, or longer than 13 inches. The average
    cost of a Tellico trout is $1.25 each, Tredinnick said.

    “We’ll have to see exactly what the problem is, why these fish went
    south, but it if turns out it’s Tellico’s fault, we’ll go back to
    them to have the fish replaced or they won’t get paid,” Tredinnick
    said. “We have a contract with them that says [the fish] have to be
    alive, healthy, and in good shape.”

    “I’ll honor the contract,” said Ort, “which means I’ll be eating
    $4,000 to $5,000, with the cost of the fish and gas costing $3 a
    gallon. But I can tell you those were vigorous fish when they came
    off the truck.”

    North Park was yesterday’s first stop, followed by the two Deer lakes
    and Hereford Manor. “Everything seemed OK at the first two stops,”
    Tredinnick said. “But the fish died immediately at Hereford Manor.
    That’s when we sent officers back to North Park and we found they
    were dying there, too.”

    The 700 fish destined for Raccoon Lake were still on the truck when
    the problem was discovered. Because those fish could not be returned
    to North Carolina, Ort said the driver tried mixing lake water with
    the tanker water to see how fish would react, and when they started
    dying on the truck, he was told to euthanize them by turning off
    their oxygen supply.

    Hundreds of dead trout were floating at North Park last evening,
    according to Dwight Yingling, who runs North Park Sports Shop on
    Ingomar Road.

    He said the Tellico truck arrived yesterday morning earlier than
    expected, to the disappointment of anglers who showed up to help with
    the stocking. “The fish commission is always in such a hurry, we
    figured the fish died because they were rushing to get them stocked,”
    Yingling said. “They’re a delicate species that need to be handled

    Trout are often stocked in lakes by being shot through wide diameter
    tubes that extend from the truck to the lake.

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