Hot weather causes natural kill of hundreds of fish at Columbia dog park | Mid Missouri News

COLUMBIA − Hundreds of fish were found dead, floating on top of the water and around the shore at Garth Nature Area Dog Park over the weekend.

Columbia Parks and Recreation said it received reports of the dead fish and had the Missouri Department of Conservation investigate the pond.

The death of the fish is natural, due to a combination of extreme heat and little to no rain, according to Parks and Rec. The department said the natural kill also comes from some owners not picking up after their dogs relieve themselves and a reduced oxygen level in the lower levels of the pond.

Tammy Miller, marketing specialist for Parks and Rec, said several years ago, park staff installed an oxygenator in the pond. She said it’s hard to keep up with during hot weather like this in Columbia.

Parks and Rec Services Manager Zach Nikin explained that when the water evaporates, gets low and does not have fresh water coming in, the oxygen level lowers and some fish won’t survive.

“So when it gets hot and dry, the water level drops and then all the fish are competing for less oxygen,” Nikin said. “So kind of only the strong survive at that point.”

The pond was covered in hundreds of dead fish while KOMU 8 visited on Monday. When visiting the pond Tuesday, the pond was cleaned up and there were only a couple dead fish that could be spotted. The foul odor of dead fish could still be smelled.

Nikin said the fish had been dying for a few days.

“We had staff come out on Saturday and collect some of the fish,” Nikin said. “They were sort of still in the process of dying all weekend, and then staff was out there this morning cleaning up more fish.”

Nikin explained the pond water level is intentionally shallow so it’s safe for dogs. He also said the fish in the pond are not stocked on purpose.

“We don’t stock that pond,” he said. “The fish likely get in there from a flood event.”

Nikin said it’s common to see this type of fish kill every summer in different areas due to the weather. He says if anyone see’s a similar situation, people should contact phone number 311. Then Parks and Rec will contact MDC to make sure it’s not due to any type of chemical application and will check to see if the water is safe.

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