The deaths of a handful of small fish at Veterans Memorial Lake are the result of the cold and not the recent toxic algae that plagued the popular recreational area, city and state officials said.
After a report of numerous dead fish at Vets, Great Bend Human Resources Director Terry Hoff and Parks Department Director Scott Keeler visited the site Thursday. "We found about 20 dead shad,"Hoff said.
"This is a normal occurrence for this time of year," Hoff said. This was Hoff and Keeler’s first take on the situation, but Hoff called the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Region 3 office in Dodge City and spoke to Lowell Aberson, a fisheries biologist.
"He called it a winter kill," Hoff said. "It happens when the temperature drops real fast. It isn’t related to the algae problem we had earlier this fall."
"It isn’t anything to be concerned about," Aberson said. "Whenever the temperatures dips below 30 degrees, they die."
Shad are small, silvery, plankton-eating fish that average between eight and 10 inches in length. "They are pretty much what everything else eats," Aberson said.
Such die-offs are common at any lake, large or small, where shad are present, he said.
The matter worried some local residents who thought it might be related to the blue-green algae bloom that prompted a warning from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that forced the closure of Veterans Lake to all recreational activities in August. On Nov. 10, the algae threat was down graded by the KDHE from a warning to an advisory , meaning algae continued to be detected. However, it allowed for boating and fishing. All other contact with water is discouraged for people and pets.
In the mean time, Hoff city officials will visit the lake each morning to remove any dead fish.