Friday, January 30, 2015

Furunculosis Outbreak in Retrospective


Here's an article published this past spring for my Recorder Newspapers column. The furunculosis outbreak of late 2013 will not affect trout stocked this year, although only rainbow trout will be stocked.

 
Furunculosis changes trout season plans

By Bruce Litton


          Many of us became informed last fall of the fish disease, furunculosis, likely transmitted from a heron or herons to trout at Pequest Hatchery. Caused by a wild bacterium, Aeromonus salmonicida, it’s assumed the birds picked it up somewhere else, since the hatchery is groundwater fed. The infection altered some of the fall stocking program, and we wondered what lay ahead.

          The changes for this spring are far reaching, but there will be trout for Opening Day, Saturday, April 5th, and weekly stockings through May 2nd. However, to protect native, wild, and holdover trout populations, no trout will be stocked in Trophy Trout Lakes (Merrill Creek Reservoir, Round Valley Reservoir), Holdover Trout Lakes, (Clinton Reservoir, Lake Aeroflex, Lake Wawayanda, Shepherd Lake, White Lake), and some of the Trout Production Streams and waters directly connected to them too numerous to list. Information is available online under NJ Fish & Wildlife postings, among other sites.

          Most of our Highlands streams will receive a lion’s share of pre-Opening Day stocking. Since rainbow trout are resistant to this disease, although they may carry it, don’t expect many brook and brown trout. Furnuculosis is not a threat to human health, although it’s understandable if the thought of the fish’s infection is not appetizing. Only fish unexposed to the disease will be stocked in any Trout Production stream associated with wild, and perhaps also native, trout. Exposed trout, testing negative for the disease, will be stocked in Trout Maintenance streams. Put and take waters will get fish treated by medicated feed, but don’t expect to catch deformed trout, although some may be carriers of the disease. CO2 is the quick and painless method of eradicating the many unfit trout. This is the first outbreak of furnuculosis in Pequest Hatchery’s history, although it has happened in Pennsylvania hatcheries.

          “They (Pequest) raise way over 600,000 trout every year, but they’re still stocking 570,000,” Brian Cowden, Trout Unlimited Musconetcong Coordinator, said. “It’s a conservative plan, and they will not stock fish that test positive.” While the disease is not likely to spread in the wild, the possibilities are unknown. The Pequest Hatchery’s care is important.

          Trout-rearing raceways will be disinfected, and in the future, the state plans to rear furnuculosis-resistant brook and brown trout. For the time being, remaining trout are being vaccinated. Over the course of the next few years, rainbows will mostly replace the other two familiar species until the resistant trout are established.

          It’s disheartening to know that our reliable trout stocks have taken such an onslaught from perhaps a few ospreys and herons. However, three years ago when I began this column, I noted that hatchery reared trout have been shown to have smaller brains than wild fish, and this raises a point about hatchery susceptibility. Wild trout thrive and survive by so many more environmental variables than a straight, concrete, crowded raceway. It may be supposed that positive growth, and ultimately health, depends upon multifaceted environmental opportunities for animals of any species—including humans—to make choices and respond, have impulses and address situations, if any animal other than human addresses anything. I consider that the way a trout overtakes a streamer fly displays impetus from within the fish, not a purely responsive swipe, but an address is a rational consideration.

          I’ve been unable to find anything online about an entire wild, or native, trout stream waylaid by furnuculosis, although Susquehanna River smallmouth bass have suffered an epidemic due to low water and heat stress. Again, Aeromonus salmonicida is a wild bacterium. “Aero” implies that the disease is commonly transmitted by birds. Wild trout, salmon, even minnows, chub, pike, carp, bass, etc. get it. As a boy, I saw it on minnows in Little Shabakunk Creek, Mercer County, never infecting all the fish. Nature is resistant; simplified man-made spaces vulnerable. It reminds me of Michael Crichton’s science fiction debut The Andromeda Strain.  

          In any event, if it weren’t for hatcheries, the Highlands would have no wild browns and rainbows, although these populations have been established for many generations now. Nowadays, the trend is to remove dams from rivers like the Raritan and Musconetcong, and if two of the three dams on the Paulinskill River are removed, the population of wild browns will increase, since dammed flows warm in summer, and without dams, rivers run more in accord with springs that cool and clean them.

          So this Opening Day, appreciate your surroundings a little more than usual, knowing that wildness, freedom, and health go together. Let some of your own neuronal dendrites spread out a little wider than they would with four walls around you.

http://littonsfishinglines.blogspot.com/2015/02/super-ultra-light-salmon-egg-spinning.html takes you to a comprehensive article on salmon egg fishing.

11 comments:

  1. I wonder if there IS a correlation between hatchery fish and small brains, and if that relationship is cause and effect. Interesting, really interesting. And if descendants of the small brained fish have a chance to grow larger brains if they are spawned in the wild? Also wondering if the state hadn't started up the hatcheries, would it have been done privately? If you respond to this, I hope I know about it! ;)

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    1. I make the claim from reading some article or other citing biologist's evidence. It's quite obvious, & what other possible way but cause & effect? Once hatchery fish are in a wild environment, brain mass increases as stimulation enhances connections, which basically are physical, grow. Private hatcheries have existed for many years. It's true for humans too. Nowadays more and more doctors know being outdoors is just as important as not smoking...and eventually people in conventional authority will also recognize neural dendritic connections grow though outdoor stimulation, and that growth, again, is physical and can be measured.

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  2. Also suggests a 'well-regulated' society where individuals no longer need to make choices, and decisions will lead to decrease of brain mass. I was busy doing the lawns outside. Let's see if I am smarter doing my reading!

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  3. Well, you know the ultimate loss of brain mass may be Alzheimer's, and one of the many ways to avoid dementia leading to Alzheimer's is by mental exercise. These involve choices. Gardening is very good for you. Anything outdoors that involves participation, yet sensory immersion to some degree, is better than being a passive spectator of views & the like.

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  4. Wow, starting to lose my temper with this!!! Had my comment all written out, then choose this account to sign off and lost the comment. Blarrrrgh. All right, one more time. I lost a cousin to Alzheimer's. She was the epitome of vitality--healthy, energetic, constantly expanding her knowledge, traveling all over the world and hiking, did her own gardening, biking, eating well. And this was just her. She wasn't doing these things to avoid getting Alzheimer's. This was Joyce, herself. I can remember visiting her about 10 years before she died. She must have been noticing the beginning effects of the disease for she carried a small notepad around with her to jot down things she needed to remember. I miss her. Even when I suspected she no longer really remembered me, she still knew how to be an entertaining and fun person.

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  5. She was an example of someone who did plenty right to avoid the disease, yet got it. I also eat cruciferous vegetables: Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, I think broccoli is also. Onions & garlic aren't cruciferous, I believe, but they also are sulfurous & like the others, produce some enzyme or other in the kidney that goes to the brain & helps keep it healthy. Loads about this is online.

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  6. I think I am keeping people away today with the amount of garlic I ate this morning! Not too often with the Swiss chard, or Brussels sprouts, but lots of broccoli, onions, and of course the garlic. Can't think of any veggies I don't like except one kind of kelp or whatever-smells like stagnant tide pools and tastes worse. I hear Robin Williams was suffering from some form of dementia creeping up on him. I don't blame him. Would do the same myself.

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    1. Oh, dementia...depression you can get out of, at least w/adequate means. (I don't mean medicine.) Garlic has been shown to be cancer preventative also. Amazing how different foods have special properties, but of course the body is what's put in, and this implies a complexity of what's good & isn't.

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  7. An enormous complexity! So much to learn. And then all the individual differences between people. Still really don't know what is meant by dementia, my mother was diagnosed with it, but I always thought she knew exactly what she was doing. But I watched my father act out his hallucinations when he had a fever. He had Parkinson's.

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