- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department says bacteria are killing rainbow smelt in upper Lake Sakakawea.

Supervisor Dave Fryda says infected fish have been found from White Earth Bay downstream to Deepwater Bay and Van Hook Arm. He says most have signs of Columnaris bacteria.

The bacteria are present in all water bodies. Outbreaks typically occur when rapid water temperature changes occur at a time when the fish are stressed, such as after spawning. Lake Sakakawea hasn’t had a widespread smelt die-off since the 1980s.

There’s no known cause for concern for people, but the department still suggests leaving the fish alone.

Smelt provide food for game fish. Fryda says the significance of this year’s die-off likely will be minimal, though officials won’t know for sure until late summer.

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