Early on Sunday morning a power outage resulted in a shutdown of water pumps at the Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery just outside of Eureka. The hatchery is supported entirely by pumped water. The backup generator failed to start automatically; the pumps were off for approximately 3.5 hours which resulted in a significant fish kill.
Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery is a mitigation hatchery for Libby Dam and is co-managed by Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Army Corps of Engineers. About 160,000 fish were lost, this included 30,000 yearling (7-8”) Gerrard Rainbow Trout that were destined for Lake Koocanusa, 47,000 young-of-the-year (2”) Redband Rainbow Trout primarily for lakes in the Eureka and Libby area, 2-year old future Redband brood fish which will impact next year’s Redband spawn, 6,000 2-year old (10”) westslope cutthroat trout destined for Holland and Lindbergh Lakes and about 50,000 young-of-the-year (2.5”) Eagle Lake Rainbow trout.
Some of the impacts due to the loss of cutthroat trout and rainbow trout will be mitigated by the use of surplus fish from other state hatcheries. However, stocking primarily in the Eureka and Libby area will be impacted for the next 2 years.
For more information contact Eileen Ryce, Hatchery Bureau Chief at 406-444-2448
(Report by John Fraley – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Photo: scienceprogress.org )