Koi Ponds Take a Dive After Spraying

     SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – A pest control company killed dozens of koi during a botched insecticide spray, a farm claims, leaving the business with only four of the prized fish.
     Utah Koi Trout Farm sued Awesome Pest Control on Tuesday in Salt Lake County Court.
     Koi, or “carp” in Japanese, are ornamental varieties of common carp. The fish are often stocked in decorative ponds and water gardens.
     Chinese buyers have paid as much as $65,000 for a single koi, often requesting 20 to 30 fish per order from Sing Chang Koi Farm, in Taiwan.
     The company sold a single champion koi for $200,000, after 4 years of “special care,” according to China Times News Group.
     It is estimated that only about 10 of 100,000 koi can grow to meet the strict criteria – including color and scale patterns – for a high-quality breed.
     In the United States, The Associated Koi Clubs of America, launched in the early 1970s, regularly publishes a magazine for koi enthusiasts.
     Utah Koi Trout Farm, founded in 1985, specializes in all things koi and claims to have hosted the state’s first koi show.
     Utah Koi Trout Farm says it hired APC to control a spider infestation at its West Jordan property.
     Utah Koi owner Saranna Kasteler met APC employees before an insecticide spray, “and identified areas that needed particular attention and areas that should be avoided altogether,” according to the complaint.
     Kasteler told the employees to avoid spraying near a koi pond if wind was blowing, and “that she did not want any of the insecticide in or near the pond water,” the 6-page complaint states.
     “Kasteler also showed the APC employees the filter building with the open filter systems and instructed them to carefully apply the insecticide in the building only if they could avoid spraying into the open filters. Otherwise, she told them to stay out of, and do nothing, in the filter building.”
     APC employees promised to be careful, Kasteler says.
     However, within two days of service, one koi in the farm’s show pond died.
     Kasteler says she noticed that other fish had symptoms “consistent with clinical signs of distress: deep, purple gills; gills clamped together; and sluggishness.”
     A second koi died four days later, and more fish continued to show signs of sickness.
     Nine more koi died a week later.
     “(D)espite Kasteler’s best efforts to mitigate the problem, the trend worsened, and over the course of the next nine days, Utah Koi lost another 55 fish, for a total of 66 mortalities within the first three-and-a-half weeks following the insecticide application by APC,” the complaint states.
     APC allegedly used Bifenthrin, a “pyrethroid insecticide known to be extremely toxic to aquatic organisms.” It did not advise or warn Kasteler of the toxic nature of the product before spraying it, the complaint states.
     “Several more fish have since unexpectedly perished,” the complaint adds. “In the end, only four fish survived the incident.”
     Utah Koi claims its filtration system and equipment were contaminated during the spray and must be replaced.
     “Defendant’s conduct as alleged herein was a direct and proximate cause of the death of at least 77 koi, as well as contamination of plaintiff’s filtration system and other valuable equipment used in plaintiff’s koi business,” the farm claims.
     It seeks punitive damages for negligence and abnormally dangerous activity.
     It is represented by M. David Eckersley, with Prince, Yeates & Geldzahler.

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