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Fish kill closes 183 miles of Yellowstone River, tributaries to all recreation

02 Septembre 2016, 10:45 | Troy Powers

"It would be fair to say we're over 10,000", said Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The FWP has documented more than 2,000 dead mountain whitefish on some affected stretches of the river.

Fishing, wading, floating, boating and all other activities are not allowed on the river until further notice.

As per official record, by Friday (August 19), more than 4,000 dead fish have been found, but the actual figure could be in the tens of thousands.

It comes just as Gardiner prepares to host a celebration next week marking the centennial of the National Park Service.

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"We have trips on the books through September", Fishing guide Dan Gigone, who owns the Sweetwater Fly Shop in Livingston, told the AP. The closure affects the Yellowstone River and its tributaries from Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary at Gardiner to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel. The parasite does not pose a risk to humans, but it is important to nip the outbreak in the bud.

The closure includes a 183-mile stretch of the river and hundreds of miles of tributaries.

"The catalysts for the fish kill is called Proliferate Kidney Disease", Crowser said. Officials also said that they have not planned to close water inside the Yellowstone National Park. Reports are emerging that the die-off is beginning to affect some rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout - species crucial to the area's fishing industry. According to KBZK.com, there have been outbreaks of the disease in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho recently.

State wildlife officials said Friday that the order will be lifted only after river conditions improve and fish stop dying. "It's definitely a big part of the Livingston and area economy".

Officials said that the parasite is not native to the area, meaning it was introduced by people via a contaminated boat, fishing waders or other means.

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"A threat to the health of Montana's fish populations is a threat to Montana's entire outdoor economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it sustains", said Gov. Steve Bullock, noting that Montana's outdoor recreation economy is responsible for more than 64,000 Montana jobs and almost $6 billion in yearly economic activity.

Officials said that low water levels and warm temperature make the problem worse by adding more to the stress already faced by affected fish populations. The locals agree that the closing will be catastrophic for their businesses, but the parasite issue must be dealt with to protect their resources for the future. DEQ public policy director Kristi Ponozzo said they will test for things that might cause human or aquatic health concerns, such as metals, nutrients, acidity and temperature.

The cause of death is the Proliferative Kidney Disease, which is known to occur in various places from Europe, Canada, and the US.

To help prevent the spread, wildlife agency in the area set up two decontamination stations for equipment.

In addition to the closure on the Yellowstone, FWP is asking for the public's assistance in preventing the spread of the parasite by properly cleaning boats, waders and trailers before moving between bodies of water.

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