- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sightings of dead fish again are being reported by citizens as well as biologists of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Quality. The number of rivers the reports have come from is small, but “significant numbers of fish with lesions” have been noted, according to the game and fisheries agency.

The discovery of dead or suffering fish mirrors those of past years, but scientists recently found a link between aeromonas salmonicida - a bacterium found in diseased river fish - and lesions and/or deaths of experimentally infected laboratory fish.

The source of the bacterium and how it is transmitted are keeping the state biologists busy. This has been an ongoing riddle, and no one has been able to pinpoint the source of the problem. Most of the affected fish thus far have been smallmouth bass and sunfish, and with warming water temperatures the fish kills are not likely to disappear.

The North Fork of the Shenandoah River in Shenandoah County (from the New Market area downstream to beyond Woodstock) again is one of the troubled waterways; so is the upper portion of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Rockingham County (primarily upstream of Elkton). Add also the lower sections of the North, Middle and South rivers in Augusta and Rockingham counties and the upper James River near Buchanan in Botetourt County.

The public is asked to report the location of sick and dying fish by calling the DEQ’s Harrisonburg office at 540/574-7800 or by making a toll-free call if you’re in Virginia at 800/5925482. Reports can also be made by e-mail; send them to [email protected]

Maryland turkey harvest up - Virginia has not released its total spring gobbler take, but Maryland hunters reported shooting 2,910 wild tom turkeys during the recently concluded spring season - nearly a 3 percent increase over the 2008 harvest of 2,833 turkeys. The hunter success rate appears to show the turkey population statewide is doing well, the Department of Natural Resources said.

No wasting disease in deer - Laboratory test results in Maryland showed there is no evidence of the dreadful chronic wasting disease that can occur among deer. Brain and lymph node tissue samples collected from 996 deer during the 2008-09 deer hunting season revealed no signs of the disease. The DNR said additional samples collected from sick or injured deer also indicated the absence of the neurological disease, which is fatal to whitetail deer and other members of the deer family. Similar to mad cow disease in cattle, the disease attacks the brain and spinal cord of deer and is believed to be caused by prions, rogue proteins that destroy healthy tissue. Chronic wasting disease is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and is not known to be transmissible to humans.

Tuna fishing anyone? - The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association’s annual three-day “Tuna-ment” will be held June 26 through June 28, and all the waters of the Middle Atlantic are open to the tuna fishing competition. Participants can weigh their catches at either the Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Wachapreague (Va.) Marina or Captain Bob’s in Chincoteague, Va. All the weigh stations will be operated by an official MSSA weigh master who uses a certified, calibrated scale. For entry cost and registration information, go to mssa.net or phone 410/255-5535. The MSSA also reminds anglers not to miss the pretournament cookout June 25 at the Wachapreague Marina.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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