Heavy N.D. snowfall likely killed fishRecord snowfall across North Dakota may have led to a major fish kill on about 40 lakes, the state Game and Fish Department says. The heavy snow also refreshed lakes in the state. About 30 lakes that had been dried up are now full of water and will be restocked with fish, the agency says.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Record snowfall across North Dakota may have led to a major fish kill on about 40 lakes, the state Game and Fish Department says.
The heavy snow also refreshed lakes in the state. About 30 lakes that had been dried up are now full of water and will be restocked with fish, the agency says.
State fisheries chief Greg Power said Game and Fish employees plans a survey over the next two weeks to determine the extent of the fish kill.
“The winterkill likely happened border to border to border to border,” Powers said.
Lakes that suffered fish kills will be restocked, he said.
The winter was similar to that of 1996-97, the worst in years for fish kills, Powers said. North Dakota averages winterkill at about 10 lakes annually, he said.
Oxygen for fish is limited when snowfall blocks light into the lakes, preventing photosynthesis. Plants die and stop giving off oxygen, and then the plants consume oxygen as they decompose, Powers said.
Patterson Lake, near Dickinson, “was probably one of the better lakes we lost,” Powers said.
Jeff Hendrickson, a Game and Fish biologist and district supervisor in Dickinson, said he and other workers planned to dredge the lake with nets on Tuesday to better calculate the extent of the fish kill.
Hendrickson said carp and bullheads, two fish that can survive in lakes with low oxygen, already have been found washed up along the lake’s shore.
“That’s usually a signal that it killed everything,” Hendrickson said.
A survey of Odland Dam near Beach found a die-off only of blue gills, a species that is intolerant to low oxygen levels, Hendrickson said.
Powers said while an inordinate amount of lakes may have suffered winterkill, almost all lakes in the state benefited from the heavy snowfall.
“This year was very atypical — almost all the lakes are full and it’s a great opportunity to restock,” Powers said.
Some 65 lakes, including once-dry ones, will likely be stocked this year, Powers said.
Perch stocking is being done this month, followed by pike in late May and walleye in June, he said.