Death By Algae

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At least ten-thousand fish are dead in Lake Koocanusa, and weather is to blame.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says recent warm weather caused blue-green algae to bloom.

A strong storm Sunday night pushed a bloom of the algae downward.

The Kokanee Salmon then ate this naturally-toxic vegetation in the upper ten miles of the Libby Reservoir.

Regional fisheries manager, Jim Vashro, says the real killer, though, was the heat. The blue-green algae forced the fish to the upper layer of the lake where the higher temperatures proved fatal.

For fishers in the area, Vashro explains it's pretty much smooth sailing.

"This was toxic to the Kokanee because they were ingesting it," said Vashro, "It's not dense enough algae to be a human health concern and the weather pattern pretty well dispersed it. And the other question--can people eat the fish--if the fish is healthy enough to bite your lure and you can catch it, then yeah, it's safe to eat."

While ten-thousand may seem like a lot, this is just a fraction of the fish in Lake Koocanusa.

Vashro says this is also not entirely uncommon. Three times this amount of fish were killed in a 2005 incident.

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