Power Outage Leads to Significant Fish Loss at Eureka Hatchery

By Beacon Staff

Roughly 160,000 fish died last weekend at a hatchery near Eureka after a power outage shut down the facility’s pumps for nearly four hours, state fisheries officials said Monday.

A power outage on June 23 shut down water pumps at the Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is supported entirely by pumped water. The backup generator failed to start automatically and the pumps were off for approximately 3.5 hours, which resulted in a significant fish kill.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, about 160,000 fish were lost, including 30,000 yearling Gerrard rainbow trout that were destined for Lake Koocanusa, 47,000 young-of-the-year Redband rainbow trout primarily for lakes in the Eureka and Libby area, 2-year old future Redband brood fish that will impact next year’s Redband spawn, 6,000 2-year old westslope cutthroat trout destined for Holland and Lindbergh Lakes and about 50,000 young-of-the-year 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 two years, FWP said.

Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery is a mitigation hatchery for Libby Dam and is co-managed by FWP and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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