- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MARION, N.C. (AP) - Investigators in McDowell County say someone tampered with the equipment at a local fish hatchery, killing approximately 150,000 rainbow trout.

The McDowell News reports (https://bit.ly/1E1f9q7) that Armstrong Fish Hatchery superintendent Michael Anderson told the sheriff’s office that someone turned a valve at the facility sometime Saturday afternoon. Turning the valve diverted fresh water away from the hatchery, where more than tens of thousands of rainbow trout were living. With no fresh water coming into the hatchery, the rainbow trout couldn’t survive and suffocated.

Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission say they will try to minimize the effects upon fishermen in western North Carolina. David Deaton, fish production supervisor with the commission, said the trout would have been used to stock area streams and rivers for this year and next.

“It’s pretty evident it was a malicious act,” Deaton said, adding that the tampering is a felony.

Armstrong Fish Hatchery stocks fish for 12 western counties.

Commission personnel spent Easter clearing the dead fish from the hatchery ponds. They were loaded onto a dump truck and taken to a site to be buried.

In the meantime, commission officials have other fish that can be used for stocking. In addition, they will transfer some fish from a hatchery in Brevard.

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Information from: The McDowell News, https://www.mcdowellnews.com/

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