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DNR reminds people of 'startling' fish kills that may arrive after spring thaw

DNR: 'Startling' fish kills are normal during spring thaw in Michigan
Posted at 9:04 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 09:04:43-04

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding people that they may be more likely to discover dead fish or other aquatic animals as the spring thaw happens.

According to the DNR, winter conditions can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

"Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill," DNR Fisheries Division Biologist Jeremiah Blaauw said in a statement. "As the season changes, it can be particularly common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These fish deaths are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality."

The DNR said shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and soft bottoms are more prone to the problem.

The fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter but may not be found until about a month after the ice leaves lakes. That's because dead fish and other aquatic life are temporarily preserved by cold water.

"We are expecting less mortality events this year with the limited ice cover we experienced throughout the majority of the state," Blaauw said. "People should still report their observations. We are especially interested in knowing what species of fish were observed, numbers observed, the estimated sizes of fish observed, and if it appears to be an ongoing mortality event.”