Lake closure puts British Columbia on alert for whirling disease

Provincial biologists are calling on British Columbia anglers to take extra precautions

Johnson Lake was closed last week after fish in the lake tested positive for whirling disease.

Johnson Lake was closed last week after fish in the lake tested positive for whirling disease.

Provincial biologists are calling on British Columbia anglers to take extra precautions following the discovery of a potentially fatal fish disease in an Alberta lake.

Last week, Parks Canada closed Johnson Lake in Banff National Park after fish tested positive for whirling disease – the first case of this disease in the country.

Whirling disease is caused by a parasite that burrows into the head and spine of salmonids – salmon, trout, whitefish and char – making them vulnerable to predators. The parasite can spread from one lake to another through contaminated bait, fishing gear, water and birds.

Anglers can help contain whirling diseases by cleaning their boats and fishing equipment before and after entering lakes or rivers, and by properly disposing of caught fish and body parts.