Diseased trout will not be released in Truckee | SierraSun.com

Diseased trout will not be released in Truckee

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

No diseased fish will be introduced into the Truckee River system, according to federal fishery officials.

Despite concerns that prompted the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to send a letter to the California Department of Fish and Game over the matter, the stocking of Lahontan cutthroat trout from the fish hatchery in Gardnerville, Nev., will not occur after the presence of a kidney bacterial disease was detected in one fish, said Lisa Heki, fishery manager for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We do not stock positive-testing fish anywhere,” said Heki. “And the California Department of Fish and Game requirements do not allow them to accept [positive-testing fish].”

Heki said despite the positive test for the bacteria, no fish are showing any signs of the disease at the Gardnerville hatchery.

“The fish themselves are healthy and don’t exhibit the disease,” she said.

A letter was sent from Nevada County to the California Department of Fish and Game requesting more information regarding the reintroduction of the trout and expressing concern.

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District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens said the issue illustrates the need for better communication between California and Nevada agencies on similar issues.

“I am hopeful that we can develop a protocol between the agencies in California and Nevada so rumors and concerns like these don’t arise,” Owens said on Tuesday.

Owens also said he hopes a workshop can be set up to discuss the bacterial kidney disease and how dangerous it is to local fisheries.

Heki said a workshop is being arranged with the Truckee River Watershed Council.

Lahontan cutthroat trout, which flourished in northeastern California waterways in the 1800s, frequently weighing 20 to 30 pounds, have dwindled to an “infinitesimal” portion of the population in local waterways, according to Ray Butler, board member of the Nevada County Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Owens wrote in his letter to the state’s Fish and Game Department that spreading the disease could cause damage to Truckee fisheries ranging from $4 million to $6 million.

Local fishing guide author and fishing instructor Ralph Cutter said he knew state agencies would not release the fish since planting diseased fish is illegal. But the kidney bacterial disease is a credible threat to fisheries, he said.

The kidney infection can kill fish, said Cutter.

“It’s easily transmittable,” said Cutter. “It’s a real problem in hatcheries.”

When Lahontan cutthroat trout were last moved to a reservoir near Truckee in the 1970s, they soon died off, most likely due to problems with water temperature and other conditions, said Butler.

Sun News Service reporter Josh Singer contributed to this article.