EUREKA – A major fish kill occurred at the Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery here over the weekend, when an early Sunday morning power outage shut down the facility’s water pumps for approximately 3 1/2 hours.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said about 160,000 fish were lost, impacting stocking in the Eureka and Libby areas for the next two years.
Authorities said a backup generator failed to start automatically.
The hatchery is a mitigation hatchery for Libby Dam and is co-managed by FWP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is supported entirely by pumped water.
According to John Fraley, spokesman for FWP’s Region 1, the hatchery lost:
• 30,000 yearling Gerrard rainbow trout destined for Lake Koocanusa.
• 47,000 young-of-the-year Redband rainbow trout that were to be stocked primarily in lakes in the Eureka and Libby areas.
• 6,000 2-year-old westslope cutthroat trout to be planted in Holland and Lindbergh lakes.
• 50,000 young-of-the-year Eagle Lake rainbow trout.
• And 2-year-old future Redband brood fish, which will impact next year’s Redband spawn.
Fraley said some of the impacts of the loss of cutthroat and rainbows will be mitigated by the use of surplus fish from other state hatcheries, but that stocking in the Eureka and Libby areas would be adversely affected for two years.