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FWP Launches New Public Portal To Report Sightings Of Sick Or Dead Fish

As part of the department’s response to declining trout populations in the Jefferson Basin, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks today launched a new web portal to collect information from members of the public who see sick or dead fish.



The new portal, sickfish.mt.gov, enables Montanans and visitors to our state to report a description of sick or dead fish, including details on the location. Participants are encouraged to upload a photo to assist FWP biologists.


Though FWP is interested in this information statewide, the department is particularly interested in reports from southwest Montana, where trout numbers on the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby rivers have declined dramatically during the past 10 years.


“Our biologists are routinely out on Montana’s rivers and lakes, but we don’t always see things the public is seeing,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple. “This new tool will allow for a direct line from anglers to the department, so we know what they’re seeing when they report it and can respond accordingly.”



Information submitted through the new portal will be routinely reviewed by staff.

The new web portal is part of FWP’s response to heightened concerns over the decline in trout numbers on rivers in southwest Montana. These rivers are not only famous for their world-class fishing, but critical to the local and state economies. FWP biologists monitor fish health in waterbodies around the state. This monitoring includes sampling healthy, sick, and dead fish, as well as looking at water quality. Fish diseases are present in waterbodies, but generally don’t pose a population risk. However, fish can be more susceptible to diseases when they are stressed.


Background:

  • On June 6, FWP announced new efforts to research and monitor trout population declines in the Jefferson Basin to better inform the state’s strategies and response. FWP also proposed temporary angling restrictions on the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby Rivers to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which the commission adopted.

  • On June 7, FWP Director Dustin Temple sat down with business owners and guides in Butte to discuss trout population declines in the Jefferson Basin.

  • In response to that meeting, FWP has prioritized and will develop and implement additional fish population and health studies on the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby rivers and monitor angler use on the Gallatin Rivers. These efforts will initiate data gathering and will include additional FWP staff, including creel clerks, as well as Montana State University professors and graduate students.



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