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Fish Kill Investigation is Hard Work for the DNR

One of the largest fish kills in recent history is making extra work for the Iowa Department of Natural Recourses.
Paullina, IA (ABC9 News)- It's being called one of the biggest fish kills in recent history. A massive kill which started in O'brien County, caused by a manure spill from Summit Dairy, has impacted more than 20 miles of river, including Mill Creek. Now, it's the DNR's job to step in and investigate.
 
"We've been on a number of fish kills during my tenure with the department, this is probably one of the larger, lengthier fish kill investigations that I've been involved with," said Fishery Biologist Mike Hawkins.
 
As a huge portion of the fish population suffers, the fisheries bureau of the DNR has to get total death counts, by hand.
 
"We use some statistical methods to do that we obviously can't walk all of this stream in an efficient manner to be able to access it all and do a total enumeration of fish. So, what we have to do then is to take sample counts," Hawkins added.
 
But they're also counting how many of each fish species died, so the responsible party can potentially be charged fish restitution. Parts of the stream are chosen and then the DNR gets to work, getting muddy and wet, counting fish as they go.
 
It's not an easy job.
 
"Especially this time of the year, it's awfully hot, the conditions in the river can be pretty bad, and of course we've got thousands of dead fish around us," Hawkins said.
 
The DNR will continue to take tallies daily until they can confirm the bacteria is diluted and the fish kill is over. They add the most important things Iowans can do is report fish kills when they see them, in a timely manner.
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