The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is requesting the assistance of anglers and the bait industry in containing the recent outbreak of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv) in the St. Clair River/Lake Erie corridor so it doesn’t spread to other waters.

Cold water temperatures are allowing VHSv to continue to affect fish from the St. Clair River to Lake Erie.

“Water temperatures continue to be well below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, creating conditions that allow for VHSv to keep spreading in the fish community,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fisheries Division research program manager. “Extended forecasts indicate temperatures will continue to be cool, so we need to make sure anglers and the baitfish industry are aware of actions they can take to help prevent the spread of VHSv to new waters outside of this corridor.”

Anglers are asked to refrain from harvesting minnows for personal use within the borders of St. Clair, Macomb, Wayne and Monroe counties until further notice from the DNR. Those who fish should not move any live fish between water bodies and dispose of bait properly after use. Boaters should make sure their bilges and live wells are emptied prior to leaving a boat launch and all equipment is cleaned and disinfected after use.

The DNR also is looking for cooperation and assistance from the Michigan Bait Dealers Association and bait shops in the corridor. Specifically, baitfish wholesalers and their catchers are asked to refrain from harvesting baitfish from the mouth of the Black River, just south of Port Huron on the St. Clair River, to the Ohio border until further notice. The industry also is requested not to sell baitfish previously harvested within the borders of St. Clair, Macomb, Wayne and Monroe counties to any counties outside of this range until further notice.

“These measures will help prevent this invasive pathogen from moving into new waters outside of the currently affected area,” Whelan said.

The public has been essential in helping the DNR efficiently track and sample this fish kill event and is encouraged to continue to report fish kills, with a focus on kills of more than 25 fish. The public can provide reports by emailing DNR-Fish-Report-Fish-Kills@michigan.gov

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