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Cause of dead fish in Bear Creek unknown

More than 100 fish have been found dead in the Bear Creek. Manager of Environmental Stewardship for the City of Grande Prairie Michelle Gairdner says they first heard about the deaths from Alberta Environment & Parks last week.

The fish that have been dying are white suckers, which are common in the area. Gairdner says the first ones spotted were found near the Grande Prairie Museum, and their first attempt to fix the problem didn’t work.

“We thought they were getting caught in a stormwater outfall and we put some barriers up to make sure that that wasn’t going to happen. Alberta Environment & Parks checked over the weekend and realized that there were fish dying essentially from below the reservoir spillway all the way south to about Resources Road.”

At this point, neither the province nor the city know why the fish are suddenly dying. Samples have been sent to Edmonton for testing.

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“Fish dying in our creek is always a concern unless it’s from natural causes,” Gairdner maintains. “We’ve never seen this before. I’ve talked to staff that have worked here 30 years and they’ve never seen this kind of incident.”

It’s expected the test results will come back next week, and Gairdner says they’ll create a plan from there.

In the meantime, they are also dealing with the return of goldfish to the Muskoseepi Park Pond. Hundreds had to be removed from the pond in 2016 after someone dumped them.

The fish are considered an invasive species and will have to be eradicated at a cost to the city. Gairdner believes they have caught them much earlier than two years ago.

“We’re developing a plan for eradication again. There’s not as many as there was last time because they were, we think, noticed very quickly.”

It is illegal to kill the fish, so the City will need to get a licence and permit to deal with them again. More than 300 rainbow trout introduced to the pond in June 2017 died due to water that was too warm.

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