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West Virginia Wildlife
Bass Virus
Patrick McMurtry Protecting Mountain State Bass

April 4, 2012
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


There's nothing quite like feeling the hit from a large mouth bass, and this time of year they're especially fun to catch. Unfortunately, there's a virus affecting much of the bass population, but fortunately, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources detected the virus early on.

Chris O'Bara, a biologist with the division explains, "Our fisheries staff conducts fish health surveys where we go out and collect fish from rivers and lakes and do check ups in terms of how fish are doing as far as disease and pathogens. In 2011, we conducted the surveys and found a virus called large mouth bass virus, which is not just endemic to bass but to sunfish, too."

This is bad news for bass, but for those of us who enjoy catching, cooking and eating bass, well, we're good to go.

"It's not harmful to humans to eat, and the fish are still safe to eat. What we have is a concern as to transmitting the disease to other water bodies, and with the upcoming fishing season, and people going out and enjoying our water, there are a few things we can do to slow down the transmission of diseases, not just large mouth virus." says O'Bara.

You don't have to be a fish biologist to help stop, or at least minimize the risk of spreading the virus when you go fishing. O'Bara says with a few simple cautionary procedures, you can play a major role in keeping the virus from spreading. It all starts after you get your bass on board your boat or on shore, the whole idea is to reduce stress on the fish.

"If you do decide to release the fish, release the fish right away, that will reduce stress on the fish. Another is if you do want to hold a fish in a live well, make sure you have good water quality. We don't want to move fish from one body of water to another and we don't want to move water from one body to another." says O'Bara.

Like other threats to our environment, by working together to help take care of our wildlife, we can help protect our future enjoyment of the great outdoors.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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