In the early hours of a frigid March morning, a dozen men in waders and coveralls plunge into the icy raceway waters of the Bear Creek fish-rearing station in Accident, Md. Using large plastic baskets, they haul more than 50 pounds at a time of rainbow trout out of the cold water and into even colder air, where the fish are weighed and then tossed into a front-end loader, to be trucked to a plant and cooked down into animal feed.
"An unusual load for you?" Bob Lunsford, director of fisheries for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, asks the truck driver for Valley Protein, who responds, "Very. We usually only see chicken, cows, and horses."
"Well, we'd rather not be giving these fish to you," says Lunsford, as foot-long rainbow trout flip around madly in the baskets and front loader's bucket.