A microscopic parasite is ravaging the fish population of the Yellowstone River in Montana prompting state officials to ban water-based recreation along a 183-mile stretch of the river and all of its tributaries.
The state’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the closure, which extends from Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary at Gardiner to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel.
In a statement department officials said, “This action is necessary to protect the fishery and the economy it sustains. The closure will also help limit the spread of the parasite to adjacent rivers through boats, tubes, waders and other human contact and minimize further mortality in all fish species.”
Over 2,000 dead mountain whitefish have been documented by the department in the past week alone and officials estimate that the total impact to that species is in the tens of thousands. They are also concerned about reports that some rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout are being killed by the parasite.