Fish mystery solved: Game warden determines cause of fish killed in local pond

The discovery of more than 100 dead fish in a local pond prompted an investigation Friday by a state game warden.

Pottawatomie County Game Warden Mike France was called out to that… scene by Shawnee firefighters, who responded to what was reported as a possible haz-mat situation at a pond near Cambridge Court, a street in the Northridge Addition.

At the scene, France determined that organic matter running into the pond from recent rains reacted with blue-green algae, which sucked the oxygen out of the water.

It’s not uncommon, France said, as there are chemicals and fertilizers used on lawns in that area.

“We had a big rain with runoff that flushed those chemicals into the pond,” he said. That reaction is called a bloom.

“There’s not enough oxygen left in the water and the fish suffocate,” France said, adding in cases like this, the best thing to do is to leave the pond alone.

“Nature will correct itself,” he added.

It was reported that an unpleasant smell in the area originally prompted an inquiry, and France said that the fish smell would stick around for a week or so.

France, who estimated there were about 150 dead fish, including catfish, bass, carp and some blue gill, said there was still activity in the pond.

“There was still live fish in the vegetation,” he said, and those should likely survive with the additional food sources now available in the environment.

Because of the unpredictable rains, it’s unknown if this type of event could occur again.

When light rain falls more often, there’s less of a chance that a large amount of any organic materials will end up on a pond at all once, he said. But with sporadic rains, and the latest heavy rains, it puts too much runoff with concentration of organic matters from lawns into some ponds all at once, he said, and the “blue-green algae loves it.”

France, who said he could see blue-green algae in the pond, said that too will eventually go away but it will take time for the pond to regenerate back to normal.

“Mother nature will survive,” he said.

Calls logs show that before France checked the scene, crews from the water department as well as Department of Environmental Quality also worked that scene, along with Shawnee police and fire crews.


Photo caption: Shawnee firefighters walk around a local pond Friday, where more than 100 dead fish were found. A state warden determined runoff of organic materials, such as lawn fertilizers, from recent rains reacted with blue-green algae and suffocated those fish.

Kim Morava, News-star

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