Short Strikes No. 5

This week, Short Strikes heads north of the border to the root of a massive fish kill in Canada. We investigate reports of a meeting between Johnny Morris and Sandy Hook victims and check-in with a resurgent Gander Outdoors.

Parks Canada Kills 30,000 Fish

Canadian authorities exterminated 30,000 fish from an 44-acre pond this week. According to the organization Stop Aquatic Hitchikers, the lake had been closed since August of 2016.

The strike: The move isn’t as grisly at it seems. The exterminations come in an effort to stop the spread of whirling disease, a parasite that infects salmon, trout and other related species like grayling and whitefish. Whirling disease causes skeletal and neurological damage to the host. Johnson Lake, the epicenter of this week’s news, was the first confirmed location of the disease by Canadian authorities nearly two years ago. The illness isn’t harmful to humans, but is often spread by well-meaning hominoids transporting live fish from one watershed to another.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, whirling disease has been documented in the United States since at least 1956 (Download, Page 7). Wildlife officials first observed the parasite when rainbow trout were imported to Europe from the United States around 1900, though its believed to have originated in brown trout. The more fragile rainbows then transported the sickness back to the states sometime in the following decades.

Whirling disease now infects at least 25 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Here’s a peek:

Johnny Morris talks to Sandy Hook Victims

FTR typically stays away from firearms policy, but when the most powerful man in fishing steps up to the plate, we will follow suit. According to the Springfield Business Journal, Morris spoke with families of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left 20 children and eight adults fatally wounded in Newtown, Connecticut.

The strike: Bass Pro Shops has (so far) stayed on the sidelines of America’s raging gun control debate. Meanwhile, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have raised the minimum age of firearm sales in their stores to 21. Previously, that age was only required for handgun purchase, leaving rifles and shotguns open to anyone over 18. The moves have been met with cheers and jeers from outdoor enthusiasts on either side of the debate. A move by Bass Pro Shops—a business that markets itself heavily as a family destination—could nudge legislators grappling with the debate in one direction or the other.

Bass Pro Shops did not immediately return a request for comment. Attorneys representing the Sandy Hook families called the conversation, “honest and constructive.”

69 Geese for Your Gander

Gander Outdoors is unlocking doors across the country, as its plan to re-open 69 former Gander Mountain outdoor stores is unfolding. Since January, FTR has confirmed the opening or pending opening of Gander Outdoors locations in Madison, Wisconsin; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Mount Juliet, Tennessee; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Portage, Michigan; Onalaska, Wisconsin; North Charleston, South Carolina; Hermantown, Minnesota; Paducah, Kentucky; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Our great team at the headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota, has been working tirelessly over the past six months to get the locations prepared,” said Camping World Holdings Chairman Marcus Lemonis in a January statement. “We are extremely excited to begin the rapid opening process and hope to open all locations this spring.”

The strike: These openings are just the start. Planned Gander Outdoors locations set to open in 2018 include:

1. Florence, AL
2. Opelika, AL
3. Parker, CO
4. Ocala, FL
5. Pensacola, FL
6. St. Augustine, FL
7. Tampa, FL
8. Albany, GA
9. Cedar Rapids, IA
10. O’Fallon, IL
11. Peoria, IL
12. Rockford, IL
13. Springfield, IL
14. Ft. Wayne, IN
15. Greenfield, IN
16. Indianapolis (Castleton), IN
17. Wichita, KS
18. Bowling Green, KY
19. Paducah, KY
20. Coldwater, MI
21. Flint, MI
22. Kalamazoo, MI
23. Marquette, MI
24. Port Huron, MI
25. Saginaw, MI
26. Traverse City, MI
27. Utica, MI
28. Baxter, MN
29. Bemidji, MN
30. Forest Lake, MN
31. Hermantown (Duluth), MN
32. Lakeville, MN
33. Chesterfield, MO
34. Fayetteville, NC
35. Gastonia, NC
36. Greensboro, NC
37. Monroe, NC
38. Mooresville, NC
39. Winston-Salem, NC
40. Kingston, NY
41. Syracuse, NY
42. Tonawanda, NY
43. Mentor, OH
44. Niles, OH
45. Chambersburg, PA
46. Greensburg, PA
47. Johnstown, PA
48. Scranton, PA
49. Williamsport, PA
50. York, PA
51. N. Charleston, SC
52. Jackson, TN
53. Amarillo, TX
54. Ft. Worth, TX
55. Spring, TX
56. Tyler, TX
57. Fredericksburg, VA
58. Roanoke, VA
59. Appleton, WI
60. Baraboo, WI
61. Deforest (Madison), WI
62. Eau Claire, WI
63. Green Bay, WI
64. Janesville, WI
65. Kenosha, WI
66. Onalaska (Lacrosse), WI
67. Sheboygan, WI
68. Waukesha, WI
69. Wausau (Rothschild), WI