GREAT FALLS — A person has pledged an additional $1,000 toward the reward for information that will help Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks find the person/s responsible for killing fish in the display pond at Giant Springs Hatchery in Great Falls.
The reward amount is now $2,000.
FWP game warden Andrew Burton believes that someone scaled the chain link fence surrounding the hatchery and used a knife to spear and slash many of the large trout in the circular display pond sometime after sunset on Sunday, Aug. 22.
Numerous fish in the tank were found with severe cuts and puncture wounds, which resulted in six fish being euthanized the next day; several other fish were found dead in the park.
“This is beyond just an act of senseless and stupid vandalism,” said Burton. “People really love seeing and feeding these big fish, and they are one of the most popular attractions in Giant Springs State Park and the hatchery. Since some of them were six years old or even older, it’s going to take a while now to replace them.”
FWP Game Warden Dave Holland said growing more fish to the size of the ones lost will take years, and while losing some of the broodstock is frustrating, the worst part for him is the educational impact.
"This is an opportunity for the general public to come learn about fish, learn how great of a fishery Montana has and to feed them and to get an education. That's what the real tragedy here is,” Holland said.
FWP declined to say whether surveillance cameras were in use at the time of the incident, but did say they are working to increase security at the park.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 1-800-TIPMONT or contact Burton at 406-217-7855. Tips are kept confidential.