Provincial biologists are calling on B.C. anglers to take extra precautions following the discovery of a potentially fatal fish disease in a lake near the B.C.-Alberta boundary.
Last week, Parks Canada closed Johnson Lake in Banff National Park after fish tested positive for whirling disease – the first case of this disease in the country.
Whirling disease is caused by a parasite that burrows into the head and spine of salmonids – salmon, trout, whitefish and char – making them vulnerable to predators. The parasite can spread from one lake to another through contaminated bait, fishing gear, water and birds.
Anglers can help contain whirling diseases by cleaning their boats and fishing equipment before and after entering lakes or rivers, and by properly disposing of caught fish and body parts.
Whirling disease can cause fish to swim erratically – hence the name. In order to reduce the risk of spreading both aquatic disease and invasive species, anglers and boaters are advised to follow B.C.’s "clean, dry and drain" protocol.
The causal agent of whirling disease is not a risk to human health. More information can be found here.
For more about the clean, dry, drain protocol: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/invasive-mussels/clean-drain-and-dry