In recent years, the spread of whirling disease (WD) has become a serious management issue for hatcheries rearing trout. WD is a microscopic parasite that uses trout as part of its life cycle. In the early stages of its life cycle, the parasite bores into a young trout’s spinal column and makes it way to the young trout’s head, causing neurological problems. The trout's nervous system then becomes inhibited and the fish displays outer symptoms, such as a darken tail and erratic swimming. Most fish with WD will have a much shortened life span, resulting in reduced trout populations. There are no known health risks for humans who eat WD infected trout.
Hotchkiss NFH is one of the few public fish hatcheries in western Colorado to be certified WD-free. Due to its disease-free status, the hatchery is now assisting the Colorado Division of Wildlife by stocking disease-free trout in lakes, streams, and reservoirs in western Colorado. In addition, Hotchkiss has begun to successfully raise WD resistant strains of trout to be used in heavily infected waters. These trout bolster the declining trout populations and aide in sustaining trout fishing opportunities.
Last updated: March 1, 2012