Friday, May 18, 2007

Containment Feel

Now that the fish virus Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) has been discovered in Lake Winnebago, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has enacted further emergency rulings aimed at curbing its spread. Since April 7th of this year, rulings have been in effect in Wisconsin that banned the transport of live fish from the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and any of their tributaries. As of May 17th the ban has been expanded to the entire Lake Winnebago watershed (pdf map), but more importantly, as the press release from the DNR notes: "...if VHS is found outside of the Lake Winnebago system the rules will automatically go into effect statewide."

Wisconsin has also increased monitoring of bait dealers and has suspended the stocking of fish within the watershed, and this editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out the role that anglers and boaters will have to play in preventing the spread of VHS. The seriousness with which everyone is taking this situation brings up two important questions: 1) Can Wisconsin realistically keep VHS from spreading and 2) What are neighboring states doing to prepare for the possibility of a fish epidemic like VHS? Michigan is one state that seems concerned, as is New York.

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