DNR investigates “alarming” fish die-off from De Pere dam to Door County

The DNR is alarmed by how many fish and how widespread the die-off appears to be
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 4:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2022 at 5:11 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - While a number of dead fish is normal to find this time of year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says what it’s seeing on the Fox River and lower Green Bay is alarming -- alarming because of the numbers and also because the agency doesn’t know why it’s happening.

“Dead fish have been documented all the way out into the bay as far as Door County, so a really extensive fish kill with fish over a fairly large area,” Jason Breeggemann, a DNR fisheries biologist for the Green Bay area, said.

Waterways are currently experiencing strong currents, meaning these fish could have been pushed into the Green Bay area.

The DNR was first alerted to the fish kill situation on June 18, leading it to take quick action to both monitor and sample the water quality in the area. It didn’t find anything there.

Something like pathogens could be a factor. It will take time to get answers from the lab.

“We have collected four sick or freshly dead catfish that we have taken down to our fish health vet in Madison to look for potential pathogens that might be contributing to this, such as bacteria or viruses, but we don’t have any results from that yet. That will most likely take a couple of weeks before we get results back,” Breggemmann said.

He also said they may not get the answers they’re looking for. ”Sometimes they go unsolved,” Breeggemann said. “We try to get ahead of it. We started taking samples and monitoring as soon as we could. Hopefully the pathogens test will give us some answers, but sometimes we’re not a hundred percent certain on what could be contributing to these.”

The DNR doesn’t feel that whatever is causing the die-off is affecting water quality for the public or the fisheries yet.

“The most important thing for us is to know what’s going on in our ecosystem so that we can manage our fisheries.”

The department is asking anyone who comes across a lot of dead fish to report it for testing. Include the GPS location.

They say having a clear idea of where these fish are coming up can have a big impact on their research. You can email Jason.breeggemann@wisconsin.gov or call (920) 662-5480.

The DNR is investigating an alarming number of dead fish found from the De Pere dam to Door County
The DNR didn't find water quality issues and it's waiting for lab testing.

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