By now, you’ve likely heard that Whirling Disease has been confirmed in many locations and widespread in the Bow River drainage. As we mentioned late summer, it’s quite likely to be wide-spread and not just confined to the Bow. In fact, we strongly suspect that we’ll have more locations confirmed before spring, as results of the wide testing locations around the province come in. Is it an absolute death sentence to our trout & grayling populations?
The news is certainly not unexpected. Not enough is presently known about how recently Whirling Disease came to our waters, how widespread it is, nor how impacting it is on our trout. That will be something we will only be able to confirm over time, monitoring things like juvenile recruitment through the various river systems, ongoing monitoring of adult populations over time, not just one river but several within watersheds as chosen habitat utilization or importance may shift. Don’t see this as any kind of absolute, there may be no impact and it could well have been here for 20 years. Or it could have impact. We simply don’t know. It is, however, a new reality, one that will require ongoing monitoring, a little more intense management and communication.
Here’s the 1996 Whirling Disease pamphlet from the Whirling Disease Task Force on some of the things that needed to be communicated at that time.