Whirling Disease Found In Watauga And South Holston Tailwaters

Friday, February 16, 2018

Whirling disease was recently discovered by biologists during their annual trout population monitoring in the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters. The discovery is the first known occurrence of this disease in Tennessee.

Whirling disease, a condition caused by a non-native microscopic parasite, affects fish in the trout and salmon family, including rainbow, brook, and brown trout. This parasite can cause damage to the fish’s cartilage and skeletal tissue, resulting in deformities in the head and spine.  They may also develop a black tail, or display “whirling” or erratic tail-chasing behavior.

Although a diseased trout may not die directly from the parasite, it can affect the ability for them swim, eat, and escape predators. Other organisms, such as humans, mammals, pets, or other fishes like bass, catfish and perch cannot become infected.

“So far, there has been no indication of negative impacts of whirling disease in the South Holston and Watauga tailwater trout populations,” said Sally Petre, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region IV Trout biologist. “Although the infected trout were collected in the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters, the more immediate concern is the spread of whirling disease to areas that may be more vulnerable such as wild trout streams.”

Ms. Petre explains that those impacts can be dependent on water temperature, habitat, and the age and species of trout present.

“Brown trout rarely display symptoms associated with whirling disease unless heavily infested, while rainbow and brook trout, especially young fingerlings, are more susceptible to the effects of the parasite.” 

TWRA biologists will begin collecting trout in tailwaters across the state and within the South Holston and Watauga watersheds to determine the current distribution of the non-native parasite and the prevalence of whirling disease. Annual routine testing currently indicate that all TWRA hatchery facilities are disease free.  

There is no known cure to rid the parasite that causes whirling disease now that it has been established, so the best way to protect Tennessee’s many trout fisheries is to prevent it from spreading.

For more information on whirling disease and how to can help, visit: www.tnwildlife.org

5th International Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop To Be Held Sunday

Beginning this Sunday, bear experts from all over the world will be meeting for the 5th International Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg.  Bear specialists from Asia, the Middle East and South America will join their colleagues from the U.S. and Canada to discuss strategies on dealing with human-bear conflicts.    Beginning in ... (click for more)

TWRA Requests Public Input For 2019 Fishing Regulations

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is asking for comments for its 2019 fishing regulations. "This is an opportunity for the public to share ideas and concerns about fishing regulations with TWRA staff," officials said. The comment period concerning fishing regulations will be open until April 22. Public comments will be considered by fisheries managers and may be ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Says $4 Million Needed To Put SROs In All Hamilton County Schools

Sheriff Jim Hammond on Thursday night told members of the County School Board that $4 million is needed to provide School Resource Officers for all of the 79 schools. He said currently there are 31 SROs in 29 schools, leaving 50 uncovered. School Board member Rhonda Thurman said she believes the community could come together to provide the necessary funding. "It's something ... (click for more)

Judge Philyaw Denies He Did Not Reappoint Magistrate Because She Was Gay

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw told a federal jury on Thursday that the fact Elizabeth Gentzler is openly gay had no part in his decision not to reappoint her as a magistrate. "Absolutely not. I have a lot of gay friends, family and acquaintances," he said. However, a court officer at Juvenile Court sided with Ms. Gentzler. Jimmie Cannon said, "Ninety-nine percent ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘In God We Trust …And Protecting Our School Children

On a day that the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that would prominently display the words “In God We Trust” in every school building in the state, the Hamilton County School Board gave my boy Bad Little Johnny cause to get a magic market and scribble underneath, “but ‘Everybody Else Is Gonna’ Need A Pistol!’” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who was ... (click for more)