News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3384
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Weather, algae likely cause fish deaths in McLaren Dam

    Concerns about a number of dead fish observed at McLaren Dam could be alarming, but can often be expected in the summer, says a biologist from Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

A Drumheller Mail reader alerted the paper to occurrence of fish discovered dead on the McLaren Dam in Starland County. The dam is a popular destination for anglers and was stocked this year by Alberta Sustainable Resources Development with 12,000 rainbow trout.
    Vance Buchwald senior fisheries biologist for Alberta Fish and Wildlife confirms they have also received calls about the fish.
    “We have had reports from anglers there are dead fish there and a number of fish ponds,” said Buchwald. “It is associated with anytime we get an extended period of hot weather. The fish can die in the hot weather or as soon as we get a cold spell.”
    He explains there are a couple reasons associated with warm weather that can cause fish to die. He says warmer temperature weakens the water’s ability to sustain dissolved oxygen. He says the warmer weather also encourages algae growth. As the algae grows, it can deplete the nutrients it needs, and die out. Similarly, when the hot snap ends, and the water cools, it can also kill off large amounts of algae.
    “That is a stress on the fish,” he says. “When the algae dies it uses up oxygen as they decompose. The other thing that can happen is in the daytime plants produce oxygen, and in the nighttime, use up oxygen. The other thing that can happen is you can have high oxygen in the day time, but in the nighttime when there is a large plant biomass, it can use up the oxygen and can kill the fish.”
    He says they have not taken any water samples to measure dissolved oxygen content as often by the time they take the sample the levels are back to normal, and the results are inconclusive. He does say this phenomenon is typical in ponds in Alberta.
    “You have to remember, being a small pond out in the prairie, it is not the normal habitat for rainbow trout,” said Buchwald. “Some people tend to forget that. These fish dying out in ponds like that because normally they are found in pristine waters in the east slopes.”
    Having said that, he explains rainbow trout are a good fish for stocking purposes because they are relatively easy to reproduce in large numbers, and when not faced with poor conditions, they are hardy and grow fast. They are also popular for fisherman.
    He says now that the peak heat of the summer may have passed, summer kill conditions have likely passed as well.


Stuff That Bus for food bank Tuesday

Some work days, wearing those worn down, faded out, perfect fitting pair of favourite jeans is all an employee can ask for when heading out for another Tuesday on the job.

Now local workers may be allowed to earn that right from their managers while helping replenish the dwindled food reserves at the Salvation Army food bank on Tuesday, August 25.
Businesses are invited to ‘Stuff That Bus!’ on August 25, by bringing a bag of non-perishable food items to the ATB parking lot from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. to fill up a school bus of food items that hopes to help children of families facing the recession start the school year on a full stomach.
“It started with the Foodbank struggling with food reserves right now,” says organizer Heather Colberg, who got the idea from another town.
“I know it’s a crazy idea but I think it will work. I know my own staff gets ecstatic when I tell them they can wear jeans to the office the next day,” Colberg said, who hopes the event catches on in the valley.
Southland transportation has donated the use of the school bus, and Tony Lacher of the Alberta Treasury Branch is donating use of the bank parking lot.
“It was just a wingy idea that I thought would fly,” Colberg said while adding with the face of the economy right now, there are a lot of people out of work.”
“I have a kid in school, and I couldn’t handle if she went to school hungry,” said Colberg, who hopes the event will catch the eye, or butts, of the employees of Drumheller.


Drumheller inmate given extra time

    An inmate, whose statutory release from the Drumheller Institution was less than a month away, was given an extra five months for brandishing a cleaver.
    Daniel O’Hara appeared in provincial court in Drumheller on August 14 charged with a five-count information. He pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a weapon.

    On July 4 at about 5 p.m.  a group of inmates was gathered at the Minimum Security Unit. Institution staff observed the inmates who appeared to be intoxicated and approached to search the inmates.
    O’Hara became agitated and grabbed a cleaver and brandished it when guards attempted to take him from the Minimum Security Unit to the regular institution. He expressed he wanted to finished his smoke. Eventually he was calmed down and taken into custody. While he made no contact with the weapon, he brandished it in such a way, it was considered an assault.
    While his statutory release was scheduled for the beginning of August, his warrant does not expire until January 2010.  He was sentenced to a further six months in custody, and was given one-month credit for time served awaiting his day in court. His sentence is to be served consecutive to his existing sentences.


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