Yellowstone River fish kill prompts 183-mile river closure

You've no doubt heard the news by now that a major fish kill on Montana's Yellowstone River prompted state officials last week to close 183 miles of the river to all water-based recreation.

The Yellowstone River. (Photo Donna Lawson.)

The Yellowstone River. (Photo Donna Lawson.)

The river is closed to fishing, boating, rafting, and swimming from the northern border of Yellowstone National Park at Gardiner (MT) to the Highway 212 bridge at Laurel due to a microscopic parasite that's killed thousands of mountain whitefish in the river. Tributaries of the Yellowstone are also closed. 

In a statement, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) said: "This action is necessary to protect the fishery and the economy it sustains. The closure will also help limit the spread of the parasite to adjacent rivers through boats, tubes, waders and other human contact and minimize further mortality in all fish species."

FWP's interactive map shows what's closed and where. If you're interested in learning more about the parasite (Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae) that's at the root of the fish kill and the closure, click here for an in-depth look from the Atlantic. 

The terrible fish die-off and the businesses hurting over the river closure demonstrate both how fragile the Yellowstone River system is, and just how much the local economy depends on a healthy river. The last thing this river needs is more stressors. Our hearts go out to all the business owners who look to this river for their livelihoods.

-- GYC staff