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