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Fish die due to hatchery power outage

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Jun 25 2013 10:51:16 AM MDT
Updated On: Jun 25 2013 10:27:51 PM MDT
EUREKA, Mont. -

The sound of running water is almost all that remains at Murray Springs Fish Hatchery in Eureka.

Backup generators failed to turn on during a scheduled power outage, which ended up killing 160,000 fish at the Murray Springs Fish Hatchery.

"By the time they got the pumps started it had been 3 and a half hours and by that point we had some significant fish loss,” said Eileen Ryce, the Murray Springs Hatchery Bureau Chief.  She told us the hatchery relies on the pumps to keep the water aerated, and keep the young trout alive.

It's not a complete loss, but enough to hit people here hard.

"This is very upsetting to my staff,” Ryce said.  “We understand that the fishermen are going to be upset by it also."   

The loss includes 30,000 7-to-8-inch rainbow trout destined for Lake Koocanusa; 47,000 2-inch rainbow trout and some 2-year-old future brood fish that will impact next year's Redband spawn. The loss also includes 6,000 10-inch westslope cutthroat trout and about 50,000 2.5-inch rainbow trout.

Some of the loss will be mitigated by the use of surplus fish from other hatcheries.