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Science and the Environment

Trout Deaths at Hatchery in Branson Blamed on Environmental Conditions

Trout Lore

Water conditions at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson have caused trout to die.  According to the MO Conservation Department, the fish loss is a result of a combination of current environmental conditions that include warm water, low oxygen, high nitrogen, high sulfur levels and excess nutrient content.

MDC says hatchery staff won’t know the full impact of the loss for awhile since the stress may result in more deaths later.

They say the environmental conditions there can be blamed on heavy rains, hot temperatures and algae die-off that depleted the water quality and caused fish to die at Table Rock Lake in the summer.  The hatchery gets its water from Table Rock.

Hatchery staff took quick action and were able to save many of the trout.  Some were moved to other raceways at the hatchery and some were moved to other hatcheries in the state.

Colder weather this weekend is expected to begin to fix the problem.  MDC fisheries management biologist, Shane Bush, says when the weather turns colder, the water temperature at the surface of Table Rock will begin to equal the water temperature at the bottom.

Trout viewing at the hatchery is temporarily closed, but the conservation center there remains open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.

Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery produces 1,250,000 trout annually, which are stocked into Lake Taneycomo and other trout areas around the state.