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Neighbors upset over fish kill in Bird River neighborhoods, still cleaning up the mess

Posted at 1:56 PM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 08:48:41-05

Neighbors are still cleaning up fish along Bird River, after a fish kill in December. Now they're concerned about what's causing the massive die-off.

"I don't remember fish kills like we've been having fish kills lately," neighbor Karen Schueler said.

The fish kill in December affected about 6,000 fresh water fish, many of which are still lying around the Loreley Beach community.

"The smell is terrible and then the visual too of the buzzards doing the clean up with their job, nobody likes seeing that, that's disgusting," Scheuler said.

Fish kills are not uncommon, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment. About 100 happen every year. In 2015, there were only 86.

Schueler and MDE agree that the cause of the latest fish kill was the die off of a large algae bloom due to excess nutrients in the water.

Schueler blames storm water runoff from farms, homeowners who fertilize their grass, and construction nearby, "all of these extra excessive nutrients come down through the tributaries and streams and come into the river."

Schueler grew up near the river and took after her father who is a forest ranger. She's studying nature throughout her life.

"I've watched this river decline and die. I've lived here all my life and it makes me very sad. It was once a beautiful thriving river, and now it's not. It needs help," Scheuler said.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said everyone can do their part to help them keep the river clean. That includes using rain barrels or having a rain garden, reducing your use of garden fertilizers and not polluting storm drains.

MDE recieved several calls about this fish kill, they issued a statement in response:

The Maryland Department of the Environment has been in communication with several members of the community to keep them updated on our ongoing investigation and to provide advice about dead fish that continue to be seen after the die off appears to have ended.

We know being confronted with numbers of dead fish can be difficult for residents, but our experience in many years of investigating fish kills shows that nature eventually takes care of the situation. For instance, birds or other wildlife often eat the fish, and currents and tides can take the fish away from potential human contact. In some instances we have seen fish wash onto private waterfront property. Some property owners bury the fish or rake them under beach sand or otherwise dispose of them. While the fish themselves are not toxic or contaminated, decomposing organisms can transmit bacteria or other natural pathogens. We advise people to avoid direct contact with the decomposing fish and, if they do handle them, to wear gloves and wash their hands afterward.

Information on this fish kill is available on the Department’s website at http://bit.ly/MDEfishkill2016. Anyone with information on fish kills or with other concerns on environmental matters involving the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries should call the Bay environmental hotline at 877-224-7229

-Maryland Department of the Environment

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