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State asks for timely reporting after Potomac River fish kill

As temperatures soar, state officials are asking the public to report fish kills as quickly as possible to help pinpoint the source of the problem.

Just last week, anglers and kayakers on the Potomac River reported seeing dead fish floating on the Potomac River near Great Falls.A Fairfax County, Va., park worker sounded an Internet alarm on June 19, saying that over the past several weeks, he had noticed many dead floating fish, primarily channel and bullhead catfish, but also some smallmouth bass in the 12-inch to 17-inch range.

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At about the same time, kayakers notified the Maryland Department of Natural Resources about the kill.

Warmer temperatures can stress fish or promote conditions that lead to massive kills. Last year at this time, anglers reported 600 dead bass along with 247 catfish and other species over a six-mile stretch of the river in Charles County.

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DNR biologist John Mullican said staff from the Maryland Department of the Environment checked the river from Great Falls to Point of Rocks and saw a few carcasses in the lower sections. The fish, mostly channel catfish and carp, had died several days earlier, which made it impossible for biologists to determine the cause of death, Mullican said.

Mullican said the best chance of getting to the root of the problem is for experts to observe the behavior of fish and collect samples while the kill is in progress.

The quickest way to reach the experts is to first call the MDE Fish Kill Hotline at 877-224-7229, and then contact the DNR Inland Fisheries office at 301-898-5443. The MDE has personnel on call at all times to respond to hotline reports.

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