The sudden death of fish in lakes or streams happen in Missouri about 100 times each year. One recently took place on the Grand Glaize arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Maddie Est, Media Specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, gave Missourinet the facts on what they are.

“The most common here in Missouri is going to be a natural fish kill,” Est says. “That usually makes around three-quarters of the events that the Department of Conservation gets reported to them and then the other one is manmade or pollution-based fish kills. Basically, what a fish kill is, and we’re talking about it, it’s going to be the death of a lot of fish in one certain area.”

She says that the worsening drought conditions could play a factor.

“There’s not a lot of water coming in, right? So, when you get a bunch of fish in a body of water that’s not getting more water replenishing the supply of dissolved oxygen, there’s a certain point where the fish population is too numerous for the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water,” says Est. “Basically, the weaker fish just cannot compete for that resource, and they will die because they do not have anything to breathe.”

In the event of a natural fish kill, any living fish in the area are safe to catch and consume. For those fish found belly-up, Est says to let nature take its course and let the decomposition process take place.

“The Department of Conservation will not collect those fish because they are so good for the environment,” she says. “It’s the ugly truth of nature that, even in death, an animal is feeding into the ecosystem. You’ve got the insects that are breaking down the carcass and releasing nutrients back into the ecosystem. With natural fish kill events, that’s a benefit that we want to allow to happen.”

Click here for the Fish Kill Event Reporting Tool.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.