People who have caught fish in the Yellowstone River in the area of the July 1 oil spill should be cautious about eating them, says the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department.
The consumption advisory is for fish caught between Buffalo Mirage fishing access site near Park City and the Yellowstone's confluence with the Bighorn River near Custer, FWP said in a news release.
Fishing in that stretch of the river has been negligible since late spring because of high runoff levels and flooding. Most state fishing access sites in that stretch of river have been closed for several months by flooding.
Last week, FWP biologists started capturing fish below the oil spill site and sending them to a laboratory for testing. Test results should be returned in the next two weeks and FWP will publish the data so fishermen can determine whether their catch is suitable for consumption, the news release said.
FWP said petroleum can peak in fish up until 40 days after a spill. The agency will continue to sample fish throughout the river to try to detect any accumulation.
FWP said the advisory was issued as a precaution, advising anglers to tend toward conservative decisions and prudent practice when it comes to the health effects of the oil spill.
Biologists have captured game fish species including trout, smallmouth bass, catfish and sauger for testing. They also captured longnose suckers, which lived in silty areas that may have gathered oil spill residue.
Crude oil spilled into the river near Laurel on July 1 when a pipeline feeding the ExxonMobil refinery in Lockwood broke.
FWP said people with additional questions about the oil spill may call the governor's information line at 406-657-0231, go to the information office at 424 Morey St. in Billings or visit www.yellowstoneriveroilspill.mt.gov.