Hatchery helps save fish species

Hatchery helps save fish species

MAMMOTH SPRING, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 has a lot of history, and a part of that history is one of the oldest fish hatcheries in America in Mammoth Spring.

At the fishery they raise a lot of fish that go into the Spring river, but not all of the fish raised are native to the area, and they are being shipped far away to their new home.

The hatchery does a lot to keep the population up on the Spring River with several different species of fish said Richard Shelton, Manager at the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery.

Shelton said, "We do raise a lot of fish for the Spring River, Current River, and Eleven-Point River.  Mostly we stock wall-eye and small mouth bass, blue-gill and red-ear sunfish."

Even though so many of the fish are common in the area, the hatchery does a lot of work with endangered species as well, and not all of them are native to the area.

Shelton said, "We're moving more into a lot of endangered species such as paddle-fish, sturgeon, endangered muscles, alligator snapping turtles, just a variety of species that are endangered or threatened."

Shelton said that the hatchery sends sturgeon to the French Broad River in Tennessee, alligator gar and paddle fish to Mississippi, and stripped bass to the Apalachicola River in Florida, all areas where the species are either considered threatened, endangered, or extinct.  Shelton also included some of the species being worked on here in Region 8 including the alligator snapping turtle and the hellbender salamander.

When these different species are sent off, the hatchery can identify them to see if they are surviving by tagging them before sending them off.

Shelton said, "They're actually tagged, they tag them by cutting one of the scales, so that when they go back and do population studies they can determine where these fish were raised and which ones survived and which didn't."

Shelton included that the hatchery has started a lot of other things as well with their brand new aquarium.  He says that they have classes every so often for groups to teach more about conservation and the waterways here in Region 8.  You can find out more about the local hatchery here, http://www.fws.gov/mammothspring/

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