Fish die at hatchery; trout were to be planted in Missouri River

Fish die at hatchery; trout were to be planted in Missouri River A recent power outage at Cleghorn Springs Fish Hatchery in Rapid City ended the life of some trout fingerlings, according to Game, Fish and Parks officials.

On Saturday, June 12, a thunderstorm eliminated the hatchery's power while the backup pump was under repair. "We lost about 130,000 three-inch rainbow trout fingerlings out of a group of 240,000," said Fisheries Staff Administrator Dennis Unkenholz. "The good news is that the loss was only 950 pounds of a total 44,000 pounds of fish at the hatchery."

The fish were scheduled for experimental stocking in the Missouri River.

Pump repairs were delayed due to the machine's age and uncommon type, requiring motor parts to be ordered and rebuilt. Unkenholz added that the backup system does not have the capacity to sustain all of the fish, and the hatchery has no on-site personnel.

"Hatchery staff have to rely on the alarm system and the ability to respond quickly to save the fish," Unkenholz said. "If telephone service is ever lost, hatchery workers would not know if there was a problem."

By the time an alternate solution was established, 60 percent of the fish inside had perished.

"The system was placed on gravity flow, meaning the water only has the minimum oxygen amount under normal conditions to keep the fish alive," Unkenholz said.

Hatchery staff could not maintain the fish under gravity flow water conditions for very long. An oxygen diffuser was placed in the circular tanks to keep surviving fish alive. The hatchery staff has divided the remaining fish among more tanks, so in the event of another power outage they will be better able to keep the fish alive.

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