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Arkansas River Fish Kill Investigation Continues

Date01/03/2011
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OZARK—Anglers and residents along the Arkansas River near the Ozark Lock and Dam wrapped up 2010 witnessing more than 83,000 dead and dying fish on the surface of the river.

According to Chris Racey, AGFC assistant chief of fisheries, the fish kill was reported on Dec. 29 and covered about 17 miles of river from the Ozark Lock and Dam downstream to River Mile 240, directly south of Hartman, Ark.

Bob Limbird, district fisheries biologist for the Russellville area, said, “We started receiving reports on Wednesday night. (AGFC Fisheries Management Biologist) Frank Leone and Wildlife Officer Ben Sisk arrived at dark and scanned the water with a spotlight. They saw a lot of dead fish on the shore and decided to come back with more manpower Thursday morning to properly assess the situation.”

On Friday, 17 AGFC personnel loaded into six boats and surveyed the stretch of river affected by the kill.

“We sampled the south bank along the river channel,” said Limbird. “Most of the fish were concentrated from the dam to Okane, with a few here and there stretching almost to Horsehead Creek.”

About 99 percent of the dead fish (about 82,680 estimated fish) were freshwater drum. A few yellow bass, white bass and sauger were found in sampled areas, but may be unrelated to the drum kill.

“Most of the fish were freshwater drum between 6 and 11 inches long,” said Limbird. “We picked up five drum that were dying and submitted them to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for testing.”

The fish samples are being analyzed, but it could take up to 30 days for full test results.