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Warming waters causing increase in fish kills

You may have noticed an increased amount of dead or sick fish in your favorite bodies of water recently. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Monday that because the water is warming up, you may see more dead fish than usual. There is more than one cause for this, from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, to environmental issues like low dissolved oxygen levels and thermal stress. The good news is it usually does not have a lasting impact on larger fish populations. 


The DNR urges the public and their pets to never consume dead or visibly sick fish. You should also report any fish kill events to your local fish biologist and do so quickly because water conditions and warm temperatures could make it hard to identify the exact cause of death.


From the DNR:

  • If you catch a diseased or dying fish or observe a fish kill, please take the following steps: 
  • Always wear gloves or wash your hands after handling dead or dying fish.
  • Anglers should not actively collect fish samples from a fish kill event. If you accidentally catch a diseased or dying fish, retain the fish as a part of your daily bag limit and place the fish in a plastic bag on ice in a cooler. Do not transport the fish to a DNR office or hatchery.
  • Note the waterbody, date, fish species and number of dead or dying fish and report it immediately to your local fisheries biologist or the DNR tip line (1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367).
  • If possible, and it’s safe to do so, take clear images of the affected area (e.g., waterbody showing dead/dying fish) and close-up images of the affected fish.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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