Friday, May 13, 2011

Lake Erie walleye kill "not a major event," state says

Concern over the death of thousands of Lake Erie walleye has anglers on edge but the Ohio Division of Wildlife remains satisfied that the situation is not a disaster.

The fish have been discovered in the lake's Western Basin and show signs of both bacterial and fungal growth.

However, the die-off is a normal part of the post-spawning condition of young walleye, says Kevin Kayle, manager of the Wildlife Division's Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

"When people see dead walleye they push the panic button," Kayle says. "But we've had our people look at the situation and they've determined it's not a major event."

Kayle says that the number of dead walleye totals only a couple to a few thousand fish.

Most likely these fish had just undergone either their first or second spawning season and were thus under stress, Kayle says.

Coupled with a severe winter the fish simply were overwhelmed environmentally, Kayle says.

"They also appeared to have been dead a while and many are just now coming to the surface," he said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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