Officials investigating dead whitefish in Yellowstone River


BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials are investigating whether an outbreak of disease is responsible for recent mountain whitefish deaths in several sections of the Yellowstone River.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks began receiving reports of dead whitefish along sections of the river near Big Timber and Livingston last week, the Bozeman Chronicle reported.

Officials said the die off could be due to proliferative kidney disease, or PKD — a condition caused by a parasite affecting salmonids, such as mountain whitefish and trout. An outbreak of the disease in the Yellowstone River in 2016 lead to the deaths of thousands of fish.

The department is working with other agencies to determine whether PKD is a factor in the most recent mortality event. During observations conducted last week near Big Timber and Livingston, biologists saw around 200 dead whitefish. No trout deaths were observed.

No closures or restrictions are expected for the Yellowstone River or its tributaries at this time, the department said.

The department recommended that anglers release fish quickly, use lures with barbless or single hooks, handle fish with wet hands and maximize the time fish are in the water to reduce stress on fish.