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Low oxygen leads to dead fish

HEBER CITY — Don't be surprised if you see some dead fish in Utah this summer.

For example, in the past two days, about 600 fish have died at Strawberry Reservoir at an area called the Ladders.

Low oxygen appears to be the culprit.

Alan Ward, the Division of Wildlife Resource's project leader at Strawberry, says this isn't the first time biologists have seen fish die in that part of Strawberry.

"This time of year," Ward says, "we have a situation where low water flows are coming in from the tunnel. The low water means less oxygen for the aquatic plants and the fish. The aquatic vegetation takes in the small amount of oxygen that's in the water, and the fish in the immediate area die."

Ward says most of the dead fish are suckers that were spawning in the area. "Fortunately," he says, "we saw only six dead trout."

Other waters also affected

Strawberry isn't the only place in Utah where people are seeing dead fish. "I'm getting calls from people who are seeing dead fish in other locations too," says Mike Slater, regional aquatic manager for the DWR.

Slater says most of the dead fish are in canal- or ditch-like environments where both the water flow and the oxygen levels are low. He says when water flows get low, the temperature of the water goes up and the oxygen level goes down.

"None of those things are good for fish," he says.

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