Fish and water samples will be analyzed in state laboratories today to attempt to determine why 215,000 rainbow trout were found dead Saturday at the American River Trout Hatchery below Folsom Lake.
“Vandalism is suspected,” Royce Gunter, assistant manager of the state-run hatchery, said Sunday. He said no dead fish had been found since Saturday’s kill, which affected 10% of next year’s crop of trout at the facility below Nimbus Dam.
“It looks like someone dumped something in the water overnight,” said Paul Jensen, regional manager for the state Department of Fish and Game. “I don’t recall anyone ever poisoning fish out there, if that’s what actually happened there this time.”
Jensen and Gunter said it is unlikely that any humans will be affected by the water because any toxic substance would have been quickly diluted.
Jensen said the abruptness of the deaths tends to rule out disease as the likely killer.
The dead fish were discovered about 7:30 a.m. Saturday by a department employee who found thousands of them in the screens at the end of the hatchery’s rearing ponds.
“We are optimistic that we’ll be able to replace the fish with a surplus from the northern part of the state,” Jensen said, adding that this is the largest loss of fish he has seen since becoming regional manager in 1981.