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State Demands Legislation to Protect Against VHS

MINNESOTA - The scourge of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a deadly fish virus that is spreading through the Great Lakes, is pushing Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources to demand new legislative powers through an emergency Bill.

"The goal is to prevent VHS from getting established in Minnesota," said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, chief sponsor in the House, in the state's Star Tribune.

VHS has already infected Wisconsin inland waters, but as yet has not arrived in Minnesota. Even so, state officials are preparing for the worse and are moving forward at the state Capitol to tighten laws restricting the transportation and stocking of fish.

"It will require that all fish moved around the state and stocked be VHS-free, including the fish we stock," said Roy Johannes, Department of Natural Resources commercial fisheries program consultant.

Under legislation, some bait fish and game fish used to stock lakes would have to be tested for the fatal fish virus.

Tests already carried out on fish during the autumn at 30 fish rearing ponds and lakes found no sign of VHS. Sixty more Minnesota waters will be checked this year for the disease.

VHS, which causes fish to hemorrhage and so eventual death, has caused large fish kills in the eastern Great Lakes -- including Michigan and Wisconsin. Minnesota officials fear an infection in Lake Superior or the Mississippi River, could spread to inland lakes with devastating consequences.

View the Star Tribune story by clicking here.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on VHS in fish by clicking here.