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Billings resident draws attention to dying fish in conservation area

Billings resident draws attention to dying fish in conservation area
Posted at 9:25 AM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 11:25:53-05

BILLINGS — Mark Jurovich and his wife were taking a stroll at the Shiloh Conservation Area when they started noticing the Pond One channel getting progressively lower two weeks ago.

That's when their concern started.

“We started noticing big dead fish laying on the side of the lake. Which was kind of disturbing,” Jurovich said.

Jurovich pulled out his phone and captured a video of about three carp swimming in the shallow water and at least five lying dead on the shoreline.

“Their water was so low and there was so many fish in such a small area,” he said.

Jurovich said that when the water levels kept dropping, roughly 50 to 100 carp were stuck in the water.

Robbie Seykora with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said there is an explanation for the amount of carp.

“One of the issues that we had with this particular instance was the flooding that we had occur this year pushed a lot of those fish further downstream and into areas where they might not typically be,” he said.

Seykora said as unpleasant as it may be to see dead fish lying along the shoreline, it isn't uncommon when large numbers of fish get stuck in one area.

“I mean, it’s any fish that doesn’t have enough water and oxygen, it’s going to be a common thing to happen,” Seykora said.

Jurovich said he and his wife watched a family of four attempting to move fish into deeper water with buckets, but that’s something Seykora strongly discourages.

“As hard as it is to see it, we do want to remind the public that that is illegal,” he said.

Moving a fish can spread diseases or aquatic invasive species to the other fish populations, like the trout and bass that FWP stocks in the other ponds at the conservation area.

Regardless, Jurovich is troubled by what he saw and hopes someone does something to prevent it from happening again.

“If there could be a plan to keep water in the lake or keep the lakes full so this doesn’t happen again that’d be good,” Jurovich said.