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Hundreds of dead carp reported at N.D. dam

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- A European or Asian fish virus may be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of carp in the waters behind Jamestown Dam, according to Gene van Eeckhout, fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Carp are not considered a game fish and are not commonly caught by anglers. Some fish are taken by archers during spring. The disease is not considered a threat to humans.

“We don’t believe it is winter kill at the Jamestown Dam,” van Eeckhout said. “The reports started in early May of fish behaving strangely. They wouldn’t swim away from anglers, who said they could reach out and touch them with a fishing rod tip.”

Earlier this spring dead carp were reported at Pipestem Dam. Those fish are believed to have died of oxygen starvation or winter kill, van Eeckhout said.

Van Eeckhout said he believes spring viremia of carp is the culprit at Jamestown Dam. Lab testing of samples from dead fish has not been returned to confirm the diagnosis.

“What we’re seeing is a classic chronic disease,” he said. “How it got here or into the wild population is unknown.”

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