Game and Fish: No cause for concern over fish kill at Louis Lake

JACKSON, Wyo. – Wyoming Game and Fish Department earlier this month investigated a reported fish kill at Louis Lake in the Shoshone National Forest outside of Lander, Wyoming. Some fish that died in this event are still surfacing.

On June 8, fisheries technician Autumn Ruskell visited Louis Lake and found dead white suckers along the grassy shoreline between the boat launch and the inlet, as well as along the sandy beach.

In Louis Lake, white suckers spawn in grassy areas at the edges of the lake. Water can fluctuate in these areas daily and especially in the spring when snow is melting off quickly at higher elevations.

From what Ruskell can piece together, it is likely the white suckers entered shoreline areas during high water looking for spawning grounds and got stranded when the water levels fell. When the water levels rose again, dead fish were carried back into the lake.

This process was observed during the June 8 investigation. Near freezing temperatures of the lake’s water slowed the decaying process and the speed that the dead fish rise through the water column, making it appear that fish are continuing to die. However, it seems that this event may have spanned approximately a weeks’ time and only affected white suckers. Fish continued to surface that died during this event.

Anyone noting dead suckers in Louis Lake is assured there is no need to be concerned. The deaths are the result of natural causes. Any questions, call fisheries biologist Paul Gerrity at 307-332-2688.

Elsewhere in Wyoming

Fisheries biologists with the WGFD believe a herbicide was responsible for killing brown trout in Laramie’s Spring Creek in late May.

Laramie residents contacted the department on May 26 after discovering several dead brown trout in Spring Creek where it bisects 15th Street. Fisheries Biologist Steve Gale conducted an evaluation of Spring Creek from 15th Street downstream to 8th Street and observed numerous dead trout within this section. Multiple size classes of brown trout were affected, but no other species of fish were found dead. Brown trout are the most abundant fish species in Spring Creek.

Gale tested the water quality, including oxygen levels, pH, salinity levels, and dissolved solids and said all parameters were within expected normal values.

“Our meter measures the quality at the time of testing, so whatever had happened had already gone through the system,” he said.

Gale notified the City of Laramie and collected more than 20 dead fish and sent them to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Fish Health Laboratory to determine the cause of death.

“We believe it was caused by an herbicide,” Brandon Taro, Fish Health Program Coordinator, said. “All the fish had enlarged livers, which is consistent with the effects of herbicides on fish.”

Gale said algae were dead from where a storm drain empties into the creek below the 15th Street Bridge downstream to the 9th Street Bridge. The algae above the storm drain were still green and apparently unaffected.

“We’re not able to pinpoint the exact cause, but everything is consistent with an herbicide poisoning,” Taro said.

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