Anglers will have to be just a bit more lucky this trout season in order to score big in the state’s rivers and streams, since the state Division of Fish and Wildlife has decided to euthanize 114,000 brook trout in the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Warren County. That’s about one-sixth of the amount of trout raised by the state each year in order to stock New Jersey’s waterways.
The program is being undertaken due to the discovery of pathogens that cause furunculosis, a fatal disease caused by a bacteria known as Aeromonas salmonicida, which affects cold water fish such as trout. No human health risks are associated with this bacteria and it is not transferrable to humans. But the state wanted to ensure that the integrity of the hatchery was protected. About 25,000 trout were also euthanized last fall, after an outbreak was discovered. The hatchery believes the disease was transferred to the hatchery by birds.
Rainbow trout appear to be resistant to the disease, so the hatchery is increasing production of this species. The hatchery plans to vaccinate brown and brook trout to provide additional protection.
The state says the fish are being humanely euthanized by introducing carbon dioxide into the water.
Trout fishing season will open as scheduled April 5.