Crystal River hatchery will meet whirling disease challenge |

Crystal River hatchery will meet whirling disease challenge

It’s amazing the trouble a single microscopic organism can create, but the whirling disease spore discovered at the Crystal River Hatchery is undoubtedly giving technicians there quite a headache.

The single spore, discovered in a batch of 20 trout tested, took away the disease-free status the hatchery south of Carbondale has always enjoyed.

The parasitic infection attacks the nervous system of some young trout and has decimated the rainbow trout populations in some fisheries.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife is doing the right thing by adjusting the hatchery’s stocking schedule by limiting the stocked trout to nonbreeding or isolated areas to ensure the disease doesn’t spread further.

The bad news is it will take money and hard work to rid the hatchery of whirling disease and restore the facility to disease-free status.

The good news is the Crystal River workers need look no further than Rifle to see a recently completed return to disease-free status.

The Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, the biggest in the state, won its battle against whirling disease last June after a three-year battle.

And, unlike Rifle Falls ” which supplies over 700,000 10-inch “catchable” trout for stocking and over a million fingerlings ” Crystal River’s primary function is to produce eggs for rearing in DOW hatcheries around the state. The eggs are not susceptible to the disease.

It will be a costly and arduous process ridding the Crystal River Hatchery of whirling disease, but if Rifle Falls is any indication the hatchery can overcome this challenge.

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