MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has canceled this year’s egg-taking for walleye, northern pike, muskies and steelhead because of concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

The agency says the work cannot be done safely under social distancing guidelines. According to the DNR, collecting eggs and sperm from spawning fish in the wild is labor intensive and requires teams of six to eight people working in close proximity.

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The DNR looked at whether egg-taking could be re-engineered, but determined it was not possible to safely handle fish during the egg take and protect staff from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

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The DNR collects fish eggs each spring to stock Minnesota waters that have low or no natural reproduction of those species. The agency says missing one year won’t hurt the fish population.

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