MADISON, Wis. - Dozens of dead fish are lining the Wingra Creek shoreline. It's something Madison resident Derek Benoist noticed on his daily walk at Quann Park. Benoist said it was jarring to see.
"I walk out here pretty much every day, and it happened pretty much overnight. It was a little alarming to me to see all these fish on the shore," Benoist said.
Benoist called the Department of Natural Resources, originally thinking "it was due to human involvement."
The DNR fisheries team supervisor David Rowe said it's not from chemical dumping like some people may think. It happened naturally.
"It's due to bacteria that's naturally occurring," Rowe said. "Because we've had this real weird spring weather where it's been warm and then cool and then warm and cool, and then we get rain, the fish that are hanging out in shallow areas, like little lagoons or side channels, are experiencing that variability. They're getting kind of stressed out, and it leads them to be susceptible to this bacteria."
Dozens of dead fish have been reported to the @WDNR this week. This is one of the submitted photos they received. The DNR says this is happening naturally from bacteria that's forming from the fluctuating #spring temperatures that's been hard on these blue gills. pic.twitter.com/LhOibjxpdh— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) May 2, 2019
The fish are all bluegills, which Rowe said tend to crowd in shallow areas to warm up quickly, but these areas tend to have poor water quality and variable temperatures. Rowe said the wind and currents tend to bunch the dead fish along the sides of the creek once their bodies rise to the surface. This is something that Rowe said will be common to see when the weather fluctuates so much, especially after such a harsh winter.
"It was a relief to know that it wasn't due to chemicals," Benoist said.
While you can always report a group of dead fish to the DNR, they say the only time you really need to worry is when you see hundreds of dead fish appear at once.
Rowe said if you see the fish, do not eat them. Pick them up with gloves and throw them away.
Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.
- Dispatch confirms traffic crash at Whitney Way and Raymond Rd.
- Former Packers running back Cedric Benson dies in overnight motorcycle crash
- Former homicide convict seeks $5.7 million in compensation
- 12-year-old Milwaukee girl shot when bullets strike home
- Portable fire pit leads to Madison house fire
- Missing Middleton man found safe