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Illinois’ Fish Population Takes Hit After Harsh Winter

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 293

As ponds, rivers, and lakes around Illinois begin to thaw, evidence of “Winter fish kill” becomes more apparent.

Around the state, people are seeing a large number of dead fish, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the higher numbers are a result of a harsh winter.

“Winter fish kill” happens when a thick layer of ice prevents sunlight from getting through, slowing down the growth of algae and plants that produce oxygen.

The lack of oxygen causes the fish to die, but IDNR Spokesperson Chris Young tells WGIL what’s happening is perfectly natural and part of the environmental process.

“It’s a cyclical thing,” Young said.  “We have our ups and downs.  Nature’s not a in a steady state.  It has its boom and bust cycles, and we’re just in one of those cycles where we had a tough winter, and some of the fish didn’t survive.”

Young says the reason this year’s winter fish kill seems so severe is because the ice is melting and the fish are more visible.

Locally, Monmouth’s Citizens Lake has seen a large number of fish killed during the winter.