Theories are circulating as to why nearly 100 dead carp were found floating on the surface and shoreline of Wolverine Lake last month.
As of July 5, residents were voicing complaints in the aftermath of the fish die-off. The stench of dead fish permeating the village became offensive and residents were hard-pressed about how to properly rid themselves of the odor.
“There were complaints well around the village,” said Village Council President John Magee. “People double-bagged the fish and put them in the trash while many others brought them to the village to dump them in the dumpster. Some buried them.”
Given the recent carp die-off in Kent Lake, where the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the presence of koi herpesvirus (KHV) in samples collected following a June fish kill, the scads of dead carp in the village became worrisome.
“The possibility wouldn’t be high that these fish contracted KHV because it must be transferred by either water or fish between the two lakes,” said DNR Spokesperson Mary Detloff.
KHV is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause significant morbidity and mortality in common carp, which are sometimes selectively bred for the ornamental fish industry, where the carp is known as koi. The virus can affect carp, goldfish, and koi.
The village contacted the DNR, which opted not to take samples of the fish and attributed the die-off to either a surge in warm water temperatures, stress due to spawning, or a combination of both.
“We have limited resources of staff and, since there are no health hazards to humans and the rest of fish communities, we didn’t come out to sample,” said DNR Fisheries Biologist Jeff Braunscheidle. “KHV is a carp-specific disease, and carp are not native fish to the area, so (to) have them die off is actually good for native fish.”
The theory that licensed bow fisherman who fished for carp at night were responsible for some of the die-off is apparently unfounded, given that there were no physical signs of pierce marks on the cache brought into the village’s Department of Public Works (DPW).
To mitigate the pungent problems associated with any future fish die-offs, the village’s Water Management Board recommends that residents rake the dead fish out of the water, triple-bag them, and place them in the garbage or the DPW dumpster.
Another option is to bury them.