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Hatchery fish surviving shutdown

SUNDERLAND — Federal furlough or no federal furlough, the fish are fine.

Throughout the shutdown that’s lasted more than a week because of congressional wrangling over refusal to pass a federal budget, the 78 adult salmon at the Cronin National Fish Hatchery are being looked after by Kenneth Sprankle, coordinator of the Connecticut River Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Sprankle said he’s checking the salmon daily and making sure they have treatments for a fungal infection to keep it under control, but doesn’t have to feed them, because they have sufficient body fat and reserves since returning to the river last spring.

A designated “excepted worker,” Sprankle said that the fish had been ready for hormone treatments in preparation for spawn eggs for the state of Connecticut’s salmon restoration program, but that is on hold until the full complement of workers return.

Other fish at the hatchery — brook trout and rainbow trout — are also being cared for at the national hatchery, although they also do OK without being fed, Sprankle said.

At the Conte National Fish Laboratory in Turners Falls, meanwhile, another designated caretaker from what is usually a team of about 25 employees, as well as college interns, is looking after the thousands of alewife, sturgeon, trout and juvenile herring at that facility.

The Conte lab is run by the U.S. Geological Service.

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