Officials announced a massive fish die-off at the Jackson National Fish Hatchery in Wyoming on Wednesday after more than 150,000 cutthroat trout died when a power outage killed the facility’s supply of oxygen-rich water. It’s going to take years for local waters to recover from this sudden drop in fish stocks and businesses that rely on angling might not be able to endure the wait.
The fish from the hatchery were supposed to be stocked in the South Fork Snake River region, where fishing is $41 million a year business. The South Fork Snake River runs between northwest Wyoming and southeast Idaho, and its wild forests, clear waters and trophy trout attract thousands of anglers annually.
Certain subspecies of cutthroat trout have been on the decline in the West due to habitat loss. Hatcheries like Jackson Nation are used to maintain their numbers.
More than 400,000 cutts are released into the Snake River from the Jackson National hatchery each year and this power failure wiped out 40 percent of that population. Officials say it could take about three years before the stocks can reach a healthy number again. Some fear that fishing license sales will also drop in the region.