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  • Sunday, May 24, 2009

    A Great Big Thank You

    SO LONG DICK
    .. Dick Vincent, 68, retired this year after 12 years as whirling disease coordinator for the FWP, eight years as fish manager for Region Three of the FWP and 22 years as area biologist over the Madison, Gallatin, and upper Missouri rivers.
    .. In 1991 Vincent noticed some problems with young Rainbow Trout populations in the Madison River. By 1994 the population of rainbows had fallen 90% and Whirling Disease was pinpointed as the culprit.
    .. The disease was poorly known at the time. Vincent and his coworkers established an initiative to study the disease from every angle. The initiative continues today and we have learned much.
    .. Trout Unlimited and the Whirling Disease Foundation have since merged and the URL "WHIRLINGDISEASE.ORG" is now for sale.
    .. These conjoint efforts have brought Whirling Disease to the forefront of our discussion of healthy Rainbow Trout Populations in Montana.
    .. Currently Montana has 150 infected streams. The Madison River Rainbow Trout population has slowly recovered and is now at 60 - 70 percent of what it was before the discovery of Whirling Disease.
    .. The recovery is most likely the result of genes from the DeSmet Rainbows probably imported from California by way of Wyoming. The exact source of the introduced fish is not known and the detective work is still underway.
    .. An article "HAS WHIRLING DISEASE COME FULL CIRCLE?" in MSU's MOUNTAINS & MINDS recaps the story about Dick Vincent, his career, and the Whirling Disease saga.
    MONEY QUOTE
    Vincent announced four years ago that whirling disease researchers had found rainbow trout that were somewhat resistant to whirling disease. The fish live in the Willow Creek Reservoir, three miles east of Harrison in Madison County. Their ancestors came from Wyoming between 1977 and 1981. In the century before that, they came to Wyoming from somewhere along the West Coast. They made the trip by train, riding in milk cans filled with water.

    Vincent said he tried unsuccessfully to learn more details about the West Coast relatives. Despite his detective work, he knows they were wild trout, but doesn't know the state or stream where they originated. It was common back then, he added, to scoop wild fish out of streams during spawning and dump them elsewhere.

    "In the late 1800s, fish were hauled everywhere, whether they needed it or didn't," Vincent said. "It was willy-nilly."
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    .. A related article published this week explores the work of the research laboratory at Pony, Montana. It's at this lab that Billie Kerans, MSU ecologist, and long time collaborator of Vincent's holds forth.
    .. If you want to know about caddis flies, New Zealand Mud Snails, Whirling Disease or the ecology of invasive species - just ask Billi.
    .. We take this opportunity to thank both of these tireless researchers. Go get 'em Billi, and enjoy your retirement Dick!
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    Resources:
    -> Montana University System Water Center
    -> Researchers Optimistic about Montana's Trout
    -> Has Whirling Disease Come Full Circle?

    -> Eye Of The Guide
    -> Billi Kerans Home Page

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