Whirling Disease: 15 Years Later

The last of the whirling disease projects ended in 2009, and the Whirling Disease Foundation has faded from sight. And while the disease dramatically changed fish populations in some Western waters, about half of all infected trout populations remained disease-free — enough to ensure survival. Eve Byron writes an excellent retrospective on the lessons learned from the fight against a giant threat that sent many conservationists into a panic in the mid-1990s:

“‘It was cool to see anglers, conservationists and Congress mobilize so quickly, with a lot of federal funding to research this since whirling disease is present in a lot of states,’ [executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited Bruce] Farling said. ‘We learned it manifests itself differently in different places; that different species have different resistance; and that the habitat relationship to whirling disease – i.e. cleaner streams – makes it less likely to host the worms that carry it.” In the Helena Independent Record.

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