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m9392 BC-MN-MuskieDeaths 08-30 0245

30 muskies found dead in Hennepin County; weather to blame

ROCKFORD, Minn. (AP) — Thirty muskies were found dead in Lake Rebecca, and officials say the summer’s warm weather is to blame.

The fish, which were up to 3 feet long, were 4 to 5 years old and were used for breeding as part of the Department of Natural Resources’ muskie stocking program.

Dirk Peterson, DNR regional fisheries manager, said the fish were victims of "summerkill" — caused by the depletion of oxygen in the water due to warm temperatures. The fish were found in a bay that was only about 1 1/2 feet deep.

"With the high water temperatures, the oxygen likely depleted overnight, and the fish didn’t know how to escape," Peterson said. The DNR also found eight dead bluegills and six dead largemouth bass.

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Oxygen depletion increases at night, sometimes causing fish to suffocate. Recent heavy rainfalls also might have depleted oxygen levels in the lake.

The 30 muskies equal about 25 to 30 percent of the "broodstock," or fish used for breeding, in the lake. Peterson said the deaths shouldn’t affect the DNR’s muskie-stocking program.

The DNR captures broodstock in nets each spring and removes eggs and sperm from them to breed muskies in state hatcheries. About 30,000 muskies are stocked around the state each year.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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