ALTON, Ill. (KMOX) - It’s not unusual and certainly not Apocalyptic, but lots of fish are dying near Alton, Illinois.
Charlie Deutsch is a supervisory wildlife biologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers.
He says the mass die-off in and near the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is something that happens every year, especially during a winter that’s been as long and cold as this one.
“It’s been a very cold winter, the river has frozen over. A lot of the fish of a couple of different species are susceptible to those cold conditions,” Deutsch tells KMOX News. “A small percentage of the fish die off during those winter months, and when the ice thaws out the fish wash ashore, or depending on the wind or the water they end up being exposed on the mud flats. So people see them and eventually even start to smell them as they start to decay.”
He adds people are more likely to notice the dead fish this year because the water level at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is lower than usual.
Deutsch adds there’s even an upside, if it can be considered that.
One of the species affected is the invasive Asian Carp – the other is Shad – and the bald eagles that flock to the Alton area each winter feed off the ready supply of dead fish.
Deutsch wasn’t able to provide an estimate of how many fish will eventually wash ashore.
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