Re: NANFA-- Indiana fish kill
Mon, 17 Jan 2000 20:19:09 EST

In a message dated 1/17/00 6:29:18 PM US Central Standard Time, writes:

> One lady's good question was what will happen to all the
> birds (herons, Kingfishers, etc.) dependent on the fish for
> survival. (As I recall, DNR said at least they have the
> mobility to move to other locations. No comment made about
> survival rates or what disruptions and stresses that puts
> on other ecosystems.) DoesShireen or any other birders have
> comment on that?

That's a lame brush-off by the DNR. How would the birds
know that the fish have toxins in them? By the time they
eat the fish, it's too late. >>

I have only been to the first public meeting. DNR reported that the raccoons
reported dead were found to be killed by distemper. I do not recall anyone
directly saying that birds and other mamals were being killed by eating the
fish. They clearly advised for humans not to eat any of the fish or come in
contact with the water. The last I heard, they still state they are not 100%
sure what the chemical is, just what they are pretty sure it is. In an
article in today's Indianapolis Star, they mentioned that the dead fish are
thought not to be toxic but are still being taken to a "protective landfill".
Now up to over 80 tons of dead fish, and more coming.

<A HREF="">S : State dumping fish in protective landfill</A>

<<But it was winter when the river got polluted, so there
should not be many birds around, is that correct, Chuck?
If birds were affected, hopefully, they would be few and
far between. It would be harder to find their carcasses
if the poison was slow-acting--they could have eaten the
fish and flown elsewhere, where they could have died in
a non-obvious location like a tree or deep in the woods,
or they might have been scavenged, affecting mammals higher
in the food chain. If this disaster had taken place in
warmer months, the avian mortality would be more visible. >>

Good point. Let us say that the fish are _not _killing birds, reptiles,
ambibians. What happens this spring when the resting/hibernating fish
dependent life forms become active and find no fish in their normal habitat.
Will or can some migrate? Will they have enough strength to survive the
trip? What will the competition do to the food base in areas they migrate to
that already have a balanced predator base? It seem to me that the surviving
fish in neighboring waters not effected by the toxin will now come under
heavy predator pressure, just when we need the popultion the most to migrate
to White River and repopulate it.

But I am pretty sure there are plenty of birds still out there. It has been
a mild winter with no ice over to force some birds futher south. I still see
Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers this time of year, but not as many as
during warm months. Indianapolis has a few large Heron rookeries on the
northeast side. Based on the frequency and areas that I see them flying
over, I deduce they fly great distances to feed. Ducks are still plentiful,

<< Chuck, this has all been very interesting. Would you
consider writing your personal experiences in following
this horrible incident for the AC? I think it's important
that this event be somehow officially documented in the
NANFA record, along with the outrage we all feel. >>

Not that I need any more projects, but yes, if I can get some help. Say,
from a professional, concerned writer. :>

Give me some ideas. Probably wouldn't be much more than then rewriting my
reports given so far in e-mail and maybe making a field trip to White River.
Maybe take a few pictures.

Chuck Church
Indianapolis, Indiana USA

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