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Wildlife officials save trout from drought

Nevada Department of Wildlife

Wildlife officials have been salvaging fish from ditches around Reno that are depleted because of the ongoing drought.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the operation saved about six thousand fish.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority usually operates the Washoe and Verdi ditches as hydroelectric power sources, but the authority shut down all water flows to the ditches this week because of the drought.

Nevada Department of Wildlife Spokesman Chris Healy says the ditches have just one foot of water left in them, and the brown and rainbow trout living there would not have lasted long.

"The water that those fish were living in would have become too warm," Healy explains, "the oxygen would have become depleted, and the fish would have started rolling over and dying."

In order to save them, people have been using electrofishers, which create an electric current in the water to stun the fish just long enough to scoop them up with nets.

Listen to Chris Healy describe electrofishing.

The operation requires a team of wildlife officials and volunteers.

"You know, it does take some people," Healy says, "it does take some man hours, and that does cost money, but doing nothing just did not seem to be an option for us."

Once the fish are captured, they'll be transported to areas where they can thrive including the Truckee River, Marylyn's Pond in Galena Creek Regional Park, and Sparks Marina.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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