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Paddlefish killed in spillway release at Bagnell Dam over Weekend

Missouri Department of Conservation still monitoring damage and hoping for a solution with U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers and AmerenUE.

MDC

5/29/02

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) was alerted to the loss of paddlefish and other species of fish on Thursday, May 23. Several MDC employees went to the scene to investigate the extent of the injuries and damage to fish and to determine the cause.

MDC crews conducted counts of dead and dying fish from Bagnell Dam to Highway 54 for 4 hours each day from Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27. “In sixteen hours the crews picked up 177 paddlefish and counted 1703 fish of other species, including freshwater drum, catfish, bighead carp, bluegill, buffalo, white bass and gizzard shad,” said Bill Turner, Fisheries Programs Supervisor for MDC. “The fish counts and analysis are ongoing, however for the past four days fish have been injured or killed at a rate of over 100 fish per hour. Every hour that passes at these release levels results in more death to fish below Bagnell Dam.”  MDC wants to remind anglers that it is illegal to possess a paddlefish out of season.  

AmerenUE is responsible for managing the flows of the dam.  Recent flooding has required the release of additional water to maintain flood control and storage capacity in case of additional rainfall. “We are hopeful that our current work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and AmerenUE will change the release patterns soon to minimize the kills that have been occurring over the weekend and are still occurring,” said Norm Stucky, Fisheries Division Administrator.

The investigation by MDC shows that fish may have been damaged or killed through three methods: by being caught in water released over the spillway at tremendous speed, getting caught in the turbines which generate the electricity and by swimming under the spillway during the release.

The MDC states that the damage caused by this on-going fish kill shows the need to examine Bagnell Dam operating alternatives to ensure the operation is less threatening to the fish populations. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) re-licensing process has focused much attention on Bagnell Dam and offers a unique opportunity to address fish kill problems and to work with AmerenUE to find long term solutions,” said Turner.  
 
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