The Associated Press
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Long bouts of hot weather have killed more than 1,000 rainbow trout stocked by the state Game and Fish Department at the Gillette Fishing Lake.
The high temperatures could kill trout in other shallow ponds and reservoirs in northeast Wyoming this summer, officials said.
At Gillette Fishing Lake, the deaths are more than a quarter of the roughly 4,000 catchable-sized trout stocked in the lake earlier this year.
Theyre starved for oxygen and its just too warm. Theres not a lot we can do unless we can get some fresh water in there, and thats just not there, said Bob McDowell, regional fisheries specialist for the Game and Fish Department in Sheridan.
The deaths could increase dramatically if the heat continues, he said.
The lake has been recorded at 78, 74 and 72 degrees. Trout can die in water over 70 degrees.
Many fish are close to shore and lethargic. Some are swimming erratically and gasping to push more oxygen through their gills.
The die-off may be a first for the lake, officials said.
I cant recall where weve had a summer kill there, although it has happened in the region before, McDowell said.
A year ago, the Game and Fish Department poisoned all the fish in the lake because species that threatened the trout — gold fish, for instance — had been introduced.
Intense sunlight builds up the algae and green plants in the lake, making it more difficult for the fish to get oxygen, officials said.
At nights, the water does not cool off enough.
We need temperatures 20 degrees cooler for a week, fisheries biologist Bud Stewart said. It sounds like it could get worse before it gets better.
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