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Poison catfish warning issued for Cheatham Reservoir

Larry Woody's Notebook

Catfish in Cheatham Reservoir, which encompasses parts of Davidson and Cheatham counties, are unsafe to eat, according to a “precautionary” warning by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should avoid any consumption of the fish. All others should limit themselves to one meal a month.

The warning comes after the discovery of dangerous polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are ingested by the fish and passed on to people who eat them.

The TDEC advisory did not explain how the chemicals got into Cheatham Reservoir, or why other impoundments on the Cumberland River, including Old Hickory Lake and Cordell Hull Lake, are not similarly impacted.

Last year the TDEC issued a fish-consumption advisory for certain species in Dale Hollow and Center Hill Lake.

Catfish are particularly affected because they tend to feed on the bottom where the hazardous chemicals settle, accumulating in their fatty tissue.

Consumption-warning signs are posted at access points around the lakes.

The TDEC says all other activities are safe to participate in on the impacted waters, including swimming, wading, boating and catch-and-release fishing.

A complete list of contaminated waters, and detailed consumption advisories, is available in the Tennessee Fishing Guide, available for free at most outdoors outlets.

Radnor Lake offers ATV wheelchairs: Radnor Lake, one of the Middle Tennessee’s most-visited state parks, will provide two all-terrain wheelchairs for special-needs visitors at no cost.

The ATV wheelchairs can be used on the park’s walking trails. They must be reserved 24 hours in advance by calling the park office at (615) 373-3467.

Other state parks are expected to launch or expand their participation.

Conservation award: Justin Wilson has been named the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award for his environmental contributions.

The award was presented by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, of which Wilson is a former commissioner. That role is one of many in which he served for over five decades.

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