DNR: Virus Responsible For Lake St. Clair Fish Kill

DETROIT (WWJ) – What’s been killing fish in Lake St. Clair?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says more than 100 fish collected from the lake tested positive for a viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv) —  a non-native pathogen and likely arrived in Great Lakes waters in the early 2000s.

Currently, the fish kill is being reported from Algonac to Lake Erie, with many reports from Harrison Township to St Clair Shores in Lake St. Clair.

Gary Whelan, research program manager for the DNR’s Fisheries Division said the problem has affected  gizzard shad, bluegill, and black and white crappie and is widening.

VHSv is known to infect more than 30 species of Great Lakes fish and has been found in lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, along with a few inland lakes.

The deaths are expected to be reduced when water temperatures rise this summer, above 60 to 65 degrees.

In the meantime, Whealn said, there are a few things Michiganders who fish or otherwise spend time around the lakes can do.

“The public has been essential in helping the DNR efficiently track and sample this event and is encouraged to continue to provide us with reports of fish kills with a focus on kills of more than 25 fish,” Whelan said, in a media release. “The public can provide the reports to DNR-FISH-Report-Fish-Kills@michigan.gov. We also ask that anglers be extra careful and be part of the team that prevents this virus from spreading to other waters.”

Anglers are reminded to refrain from moving live fish between water bodies and to properly dispose of bait.

Boaters need to make sure their bilges and live wells are emptied prior to leaving a boat launch, and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected after use.

Visit michigan.gov/fishing for more information on how those who fish and boat can help limit the spread of fish disease and invasive species. 

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