Fish kill claims private ponds

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Oconee, Ill (WAND) – Greg Carter and his father built a large pond for trophy fish in Shelby County south of Pana.  Without warning, they are now all dead.

“It just smelled of death,” Carter told WAND’s Doug Wolfe.  “Everything dead.  The pond just littered with dead fish.  Buzzards circling.  Buzzards roosting in the trees up there.”

Carter owns one of several ponds that have suffered massive fish kills in the past week, especially after weekend rains.  The cause of those fish kills is a mystery.

“My first thought was poison.  Chemical poison of some sort and I mean that’s where my mind went immediately,” Carter stated.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says there are a couple of possibilities that led to kills on Carter’s property and at other ponds in central Illinois.  Algae or dramatic changes in water temperature.

“It’s kind of like going to a pet store, buying new fish and putting them directly into the tank instead of letting them become acclimated to it.  It shocks their body, stresses them out and then they die,” said DNR spokesman Ed Cross.

Carter dismisses both theories.  He says he did not have surface algae and “meticulously” maintains the pond.  He also doubts a temperature change would have made a difference.

“There’s four or five open springs in this pond.  There should be plenty of oxygen circulation as well as constant water temperature in it,” he said.

Carter expressed frustration saying DNR failed to return his calls.  He has taken water samples to the county health department for testing.

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