Alberta Conservation is adding a new type of fish to the Lions Fish Pond.
The pond, located at West River's Edge, tested positive for Whirling Disease, a parasite that infects trout, salmon and one specific breed of whitefish. Due to this, the agency will stop order on trout stocking across the province.
Yellow perch will be added instead.
"We had to try and essentially stop the spread of disease and to cut off its life cycle. So, we had to introduce a fish species that the disease doesnt transmit into. Perch is one of those species," said Todd Zimmerling, president and CEO of Alberta Conservation.
Whirling Disease can cause brain damage and deformation among juvenile fish, causing them to "whirl" in a circular pattern. It is becoming more common and was also recently found in the North Saskatchewan River. The disease can be transferred from an infected waterbody to a clean one by fish hooks, kayaks and other equipment that wasn't cleaned. Whirling Disease can also be transferred by birds. It does not pose any risk to human health.
According to the Alberta government, perch travel in schools and can usually be found together. Their body colour is golden yellow or green with needle-like spines on the dorsal fin. Adults generally weigh less than a pound and are rarely longer than 25 centimetres.
The new perch were taken from an overpopulated Alberta pond. While this is Alberta Conservation's current solution, that may change long term. The perch breed quickly.
"We might have to go in and net this pond out, as we've had to do from this donor pond we got this fish from."
Perch are good news for anglers too as they're generally easier to catch. The very popular Kids Can Catch event held by the Alberta Conservation in partnership with DOW will take place at West River’s Edge on June 9.