Wabascon Lake Fish Kill Not Likely From Oxygen Depletion
Thousands of dead fish have been found at Wabascon Lake, north of Battle Creek in Calhoun County. Lake resident Just Shotts started seeing the dead fish on Friday, July 9th. He wants the state to get to the bottom of it, to make sure that other lakes and rivers connected to Wabascon Creek are not affected.
Brian Gunderman, Fisheries Unit Supervisor of the Michigan Department of Natural Recourses (DNR) says they’ve been out to check on the massive fish kill a couple of times. “We received a report on Monday (July 12) and one of our technicians took a boat out there that afternoon and observed the perimeter of the lake,” said Gunderman. “At this point, we’re able to rule out a disease event.” He said the fish were too far gone for complete laboratory analysis but because we observed that the dead fish were almost exclusively White Suckers we believe that oxygen depletion in the water is unlikely. We didn’t really see a lot of game fish like bass or pike. We heard reports of dead carp, but didn’t observe too many of those either.”
Gunderman says they suspect the cause could be some sort of chemical, possibly due to runoff after heavy rains in the area. He said they have received a couple of tips about that for follow-up, and have now handed those off to another state agency. He said a lot of information has been exchanged with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), formerly DEQ, and they’ll be investigating the incident further.
Just Shotts told us that there are still dying fish in the lake. Gunderman said if residents froze a nearly dead fish, they might be able to determine if a virus was present, but that they would need a still-living fish to analyze any bacterial or chemical issues. Gunderman said the state contracts with the Michigan State University (MSU) Fish Health Lab to do inspections for their hatcheries and in the case of fish kills like the one at Wabascon Lake.
Gunderman says they have no plan to re-stock Wabascon Lake because so few of the dead fish are sport fishing species.
50 of Michigan's "Must-Drive" Roads