- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The dreaded whirling disease that in the past decade severely damaged wild trout populations in the western United States has appeared among approximately 80,000 Maryland hatchery trout that were kept in two “grow-out” facilities in Garrett County.

Bob Lunsford, director of Freshwater Fisheries for the Department of Natural Resources, said most of the affected trout appear to be rainbows, although some brown trout have shown symptoms. The disease is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite and is named for the characteristic swimming behavior that results as the parasite multiplies in the head and spinal cartilage of the infected fish, according to the Whirling Disease Foundation.

This is particularly sad news considering early trout stocking is already under way. The bulk of stocking starts in early March.

“It looks like there’ll be 20 percent fewer trout available for stocking,” Lunsford said. “We are looking all over the East Coast to buy trout from [private] growers.”

As it stands, some 340,000 healthy trout are available for stocking. Normally, around 418,000 would be put into the state’s streams and ponds.

Gene Mueller

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