There is some trouble brewing in Idaho’s rivers. Idaho Fish and Game is reporting thousands of young mountain white fish are turning up dead.
The reason is still a mystery.
In fact, samples of the fish are undergoing tests in a lab and results may not be in for days.
Fish manager Dan Garrin said over the past few weeks phone calls have come streaming in from locals finding lifeless or sick white fish under a foot long.
“We’re observing a fish killing in the South Fork and the main stem of the Snake River,” said Garrin.
These aren’t the only danger zones. White fish have turned up dead in other water flows, including the Teton River and the Salmon River.
Garrin said in his11 years at Idaho Fish and Game he’s never seen this happen with white fish, and it’s even more strange because no other type of fish seems to be suffering.
“If it’s from an environmental factor, a chemical spill or something like that, it would generally affect all fish species. What we’re seeing in the river right now is only affecting mountain white fish,” said Garrin.
So, what could it be?
Garrin has ruled out the idea that Idaho’s unusually hot summer temperatures may play a part in the peculiar findings.
“We’ve been taking some water temperatures. Although we’re not as cool as we’d like to be, it’s not at a lethal realm,” said Garrin.
That’s why IFG has sent off some of the affected specimens and water samples to Eagle Fish Health Lab for testing.
“It’s very difficult to identify an unknown pathogen, but if we have something we’re looking for it’s a lot easier,” said Garrin.
The department is looking for a little help from river users this week, especially in areas that are not yet known to have issues.
If you find any sick or dead white fish, call Friends of the Teton River at 354-3871.
So far, no cases have been found in the Henry’s Fork.