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DNR officials say fish kills a possibility again this spring due to heavy ice


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Thick ice on lakes across northern and central Wisconsin may contribute to some fish kills again this year.

Fisheries management director Mike Staggs says the next few weeks will be critical. "To this point lakes have been frozen for about the amount of time that we would have seen in a normal year, so really what happens between now and when they actually open up will be critical for how many lakes actually fish kill." If lake plants can't get sunlight or open water in the next few weeks, oxygen levels may drop enough in some lakes to choke out fish.

Staggs says they are ready for kills. "You lose populations like largemouth bass and panfish and northern pike, so we retargeted some of our hatchery production and we're casting about to find some additional fish from the federal hatcheries so we'll have some fish for restocking this spring."

Lake DuBay and the Big Eau Pleine were recipients of some of that restocking last year after some major kills over the last several years. "We are expecting some lakes to winter kill, and we'll hopefully be ready to quickly restock as many of them as we can."

New funding from the legislature is helping to build up walleye hatcheries around the state to aid in restocking efforts.