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Two USFWS employees in uniform standing in front of the welcome sign at the hatchery.
Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, GA. Photo by USFWS.

Reward offered for Chattahoochee fish kill information

Suches, Georgia — In the early hours of June 4, the main water line to the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery was cut off, killing about 52,000 trout worth $62,000.

The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. The hatchery’s friends group is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the fish-kill perpetrators.

“It’s beyond me why somebody would do this,” said Kelly Taylor, project leader at Chattahoochee. “Everybody and everything suffers as a result: the trout; the fishermen; and the taxpayers.”

The hatchery, built in 1937, produces 1 million trout each year, mainly rainbows for recreational fishing. Streams and lakes across north Georgia are stocked from March to September with the hatchery’s fish.

Rainbow trout prefer cold, fresh water that seldom exceeds 65 degrees. Higher water temperatures added to the death toll, Taylor said. With little water, the fish began dying and blocking the raceway screens which funnel water to the next raceway. In all, 12 of the hatchery’s 46 raceways were affected.

An estimated 51,265 fish were killed,valued at $61,887.

Taylor will soon do a more detailed inventory of losses. Many of the fish were for stocking this year. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, which is also experiencing “a great year growing fish,” according to Taylor, may be able to pick up the stocking slack.

“This season’s fishing should not be compromised at all,” Taylor said. “Our state partners will pick up the slack. We always have each other’s backs.”

Call the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office at 706-632-2044 with any information about the fish kill.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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