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DNR Reminds Anglers To Be Aware Of Whirling Disease
State to post informational signs at Bear Creek
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries officials are reminding anglers of steps they can take to help reduce the spread of whirling disease occurring in trout in certain waters in western Maryland. On Friday, April 20, staff will be posting informational signs along Bear Creek in Garrett County, which has tested positive for the parasite known to cause the disease.
The whirling disease parasite was introduced into the eastern United States from Europe in the late 1950s and is currently known to exist in 24 states. It was first discovered in Maryland in 1995 in the North Branch Potomac River. Although harmless to humans, the parasite can be fatal to trout and is particularly harmful to rainbow trout. Once infected, the parasite attacks the fish’s skeletal tissue, resulting in severe internal damage and causing it to exhibit the erratic “whirling” swimming behavior for which the disease is named.
“While certainly this is cause for concern, at the moment, there is no cause for great alarm,” said DNR Fisheries Director Howard King. “Anglers need to be reminded to practice responsible stewardship and to be attentive to updates from the department as we work together to address this serious situation.”
To reduce the likelihood of spreading the spores of the organism, DNR is asking anglers not to move caught fish from one stream to another, not to discard carcasses in the stream or on the stream banks, and to remove mud from boots and equipment before moving from one stream to another.
Maryland began ramping up production at hatcheries and rearing stations in other parts of the state, and augmenting stock with the purchase of certified disease-free fish after the parasite was discovered in two state facilities in Western Maryland this past winter.
Spring stocking updates and further information on whirling disease and ways to prevent its spread can be found at www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/.
April 19, 2007
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov