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Brief: Four studies to understand fish health in the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby rivers

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Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced in a news release that they are conducting research to better understand fish health in Montana waterways. 

FWP will partner with Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at Montana State University for three studies that will analyze fish population and health in southwest Montana rivers. FWP will also conduct an independent fourth study about health and will build capacity to sample fish for illnesses. 

According to a news release from FWP, trout populations have continued to decline since 2011. Trout numbers are now near historic lows that have been linked to low flows and warm water. But recently, MFWP has responded to trout with fungus and with diseases in popular fisheries. 

FWP’s Director, Dustin Temple stated, “Those who work and recreate on these rivers are troubled by what they see happening to the trout population.”

The three FWP-MRCU projects will study adult trout.Researchers will tag and track fish to understand how water flows, temperature, angling and disease impact trout mortality. A study of juveniles will tell researchers about where fish are born and the rearing habitat. Another endeavor will test for pathogens and diseases and help scientists determine a better plan for sampling fish. 

For this effort, MRCU will hire graduate students to work in the research of the fisheries. 

The release included a link toward fish health monitoring and reporting.

“We want to get a better handle on environmental triggers and how pathogens are affecting fisheries,” Duncan said.

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