Portion of Yellowstone River Closed Due to Parasite Outbreak
Photo Credit: National Forestry Service
A 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River in Montana has been closed to the public due to an outbreak of a deadly parasite that has killed thousands of fish.
According to BBC.com, officials from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department said the section of the river was closed to stop the spread of the parasite, and the area may not be reopened for weeks or even months.
Wildlife health inspectors are trying to determine whether the parasite has infected other fish downstream. The parasite has been known to cause kidney disease, so all visitors have been banned from fishing, rafting or boating through the popular tourist area.
While the affected section of the river is not within the confines of Yellowstone National Park, officials from the park are keeping a close eye on the situation. Over 2,000 mountain whitefish have been found dead in the river, and officials say as many as 20,000 more were likely killed by the parasite.
Wildlife officials have closed several other areas around the river to test the fish and determine if the infection has spread. Biologists have not yet been able to identify the parasite, but warm weather and lower river levels are believed to have made its spread easier.
There are concerns about the closure’s impact on the Montana tourism industry, as the summer season is the area’s most profitable. The industry provides more than 64,000 jobs in the state and helps bring in almost $6 billion each year, according to Governor Steve Bullock.
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