KAMAS -- A state fish hatchery has been shut down and will remain so for as long as 18 months because of concerns whirling disease may migrate there from an aquifer.
State wildlife biologists said a sinkhole developed on the banks of Beaver Creek that flows past the hatchery.
Although the hatchery does not get any water directly from the creek, there is concern the disease could mix with water from the aquifer and lead to contamination, said Walt Donaldson, aquatic section chief of the state Division of Wildlife Resources.
Whirling disease does not affect people but it kills fish. It was found in Beaver Creek in the 1990s in a stretch of the waterway below the hatchery.
Irrigation workers discovered the sinkhole and have subsequently taken measures to contain it.
Sampling by biologists show that no fish in the hatchery have the disease, but two out of 30 trout sampled from Beaver Creek had the disease, according to the wildlife division.
The Kamas hatchery will remain closed until it is entirely disinfected and an ultra-violet filtration device has been installed.
No public tours will be allowed during the closure.