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Tumor-ridden catfish cause concern over bay's safety

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ERIE -- Brown bullhead catfish -- mud-colored, blunt-headed and bewhiskered -- aren't the prettiest of fish under normal circumstances. Add the cancerous blood-red lesions and tumors dotting the skin of many bullheads in Presque Isle Bay, and they get ugly enough to make even a seasoned fisherman turn away.

That's just what the state Department of Environmental Protection is preparing to do by proposing to remove the bay from an international list of places impaired by pollution, according to scientists, academics and health officials who have studied the bullhead problem for more than two decades and anglers who have caught the bottom-hugging catfish for longer than that.

But all that studying hasn't determined why the bay's bullhead are getting the tumors.  more...

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