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April 28th, 2009

Recently, dozens and dozens of dead catfish have been reported from each of the 20 Urban Fishing Program waters following an April 17 stocking.  Department biologists immediately launched an investigation and soon traced the problem to the fish supplier in Arkansas.

The supplier that provides catfish for our fish hauling contractor accidentally fed the fish less than two days before the fish were picked up.  To properly prepare catfish for loading and transportation, fish farmers must stop feeding the fish at least 4-5 days in advance.  It is vital that the catfish have empty stomachs before they are loaded into the small and crowded tanks they will live in for the next 30-40 hours.  Once our fish transporter discovered the problem, they made two extra stops to flush the tanks with fresh well water to help eliminate the urine and waste products stressing the fish.

Game and Fish has been working closely with each park manager to determine how many catfish were lost.  Over 10 percent of the stocked fish died within the first week.  All of these fish will be replaced at no additional cost in the next couple regular stockings.

“I apologize to all anglers for our failure to provide a high quality, live fish product that you expect and paid for.  We are taking measures to have all lost catfish replaced for free and ensure that proper procedures are followed to avoid this from happening again,” explained Eric Swanson, Urban Fishing Program Manager.

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