(KCPW News) The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has identified the parasite that causes whirling disease in Strawberry Reservoir. The division’s fish pathologists found the parasite in two kokanee salmon during regular testing of fish in the reservoir. Roger Wilson, chief of the DWR’s Aquatic Section, says the disease probably made its way to Strawberry through the Duchesne River.
“We have verified the parasite in the west fork of the Duchesne. There is a diversion called the Vat diversion on the SACS system (Strawberry Aqueduct and Collections System) that brings water out of the west fork. So it’s very likely that it came in through that conduit,” says Wilson.
Wilson says it was only a matter of time before whirling disease made its way to Strawberry, so the division had already been taking steps to address the situation. He says as fish grow to be fingerlings the chances of developing the disease diminish, and it should not affect the approximately 8-inch long rainbow and cutthroat trout the DWR stocks into Strawberry. However he is concerned the disease could affect the natural reproduction of kokanee salmon and cutthroat trout.
“The bottom line is it’s not a good thing, but I think we’re going to have a quality fishery at Strawberry,” says Wilson. “This will complicate management somewhat, but we’re still going to provide some great fishing at Strawberry. I think from the angler perspective we’re not going to see much influence.”
The Rainbow trout the division stocks into Strawberry are a whirling disease-resistant strain called the Harrison-Hofer strain. Wilson says trout from this strain have been shown to develop much lower infection rates of whirling disease than other strains.
How do you feel about this topic?
Is there anything else you think we should know? We'd like to hear your thoughts. Send us your feedback using the form below.