FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Vicki M. Boatwright or August 29, 1996 Diana M. Hawkins VANDALISM SUSPECTED IN DEATH OF HATCHERY-BRED TROUT IN GEORGIA AND ARKANSAS
More than 185,000 trout hatched in national fish hatcheries in Georgia and Arkansas perished over the weekend of August 24, 1996, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Noreen K. Clough reported today.
Lost were more than 150,000 3- to 6-inch fish in the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery, near Suches, Georgia, plus some 35,000 6-inch or larger trout in the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, near Mountain Home, Arkansas.
Clough stated that there appeared to be no natural cause for the simultaneous deaths of such a significant number of fish at both these hatcheries and that Service law enforcement special agents had been called in to investigate the possibility of vandalism.
A Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery employee discovered the loss when he reported for duty at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. He discovered water overflowing in 6 of the facility's 28 operating raceways and thousands of dead fish lying on the bottom or scattered outside the raceway, Clough said.
At the Norfolk National Fish Hatchery 2 of 96 raceways were involved. Hatchery employees reporting to work at 8 a.m. on Saturday discovered that the water-control valves that supply oxygenated water to the two raceways had been turned off and all the fish were dead from lack of oxygen.
Clough said that Service law enforcement special agents and local authorities were conducting investigations at both hatcheries. Fisheries biologists, she said, have ordered tissue analysis of dead fish from the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery to establish the cause of death.
The loss of these fish, though regrettable, will not markedly affect future production rates at these two hatcheries, Clough said. She also noted that to ensure that the Service had sufficient trout stocks to release in Georgia rivers and streams this year for the benefit of anglers, fish would be obtained from other hatcheries within the Federal hatchery system to replace lost fish. In Arkansas, she said, the Norfork hatchery planned to increase the feeding rate of younger fish so they could replace many of the lost fish that were scheduled for release in November.
1996 News Releases