Thousands of fish dying in ponds around Illinois

(Photo by Rachel Droze)

A startling sight in Shelby County after one man found thousands of fish dead in the pond on his property.

A week ago, Greg Carter said a pond on his property was full of life.

Carter said he was shocked Monday when he found hundreds of his fish dead on the shoreline.

"I went back to the pond yesterday and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of fish floating dead in it,” Carter said. “It smells of death. There's buzzards roosted in the trees. It's a mess.”

Similar situations are happening elsewhere.

Tuesday morning, Carter's neighbor Bill Lehn noticed the fish in his pond were dead as well.

"I found all these fish floating around the edge of the pond dead,” Lehn said.

Dan Stephenson, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Chief of Fisheries, thinks a late-season algae bloom is to blame.

“We see this on hundreds and hundreds of pounds every year, so this isn't new,” Stephenson said. “It usually happens in August, but it's a little later this year and it has to do with the rain setting in after a long period without rain.”

Stephenson said about 90 percent of the time, fish kills are caused by natural conditions that have reduced the oxygen levels in waters, basically causing the fish to suffocate.

Stephenson said over the past week the IDNR has gotten several calls about fish kills in ponds throughout the state.

If you're looking to recover a pond, the IDNR recommends talking to your local state biologist to determine a plan of how to do so.

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