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Why thousands of fish died near Ogdensburg’s Maple City Trail

Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 11:57 AM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s a big stink along Ogdensburg’s Maple City Trail as thousands of pond fish are found dead and some are washing into the Oswegatchie River.

It’s not a pretty sight. Thousands of dead fish washed up on shore in this pond just off the Oswegatchie River – and right along the popular Maple City Trail.

“When first noticed just 20 of them, I thought that was alarming, and then to come down and see hundreds if not thousands,” said Jim McCarthy, Ogdensburg resident.

McCarthy walks the trail with his wife. He is also an avid angler, but he has never seen a die-off on this scale. He reported it to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“There’s carp, blue gill, bass, perch, crappies, shiners,” he said.

The DEC investigated. It says the most likely cause is a winterkill.

They’ve been seen around the state this year. Heavy snow cover on ice prevents plants below from producing the oxygen fish need. The dead fish are being seen on the Oswegatchie as well because, according to the DEC, “A culvert connects the wetland to the river and dead fish (mostly carp) are moving from the wetland to the Oswegatchie River through the culvert.”

Some people think ice buildup on the Oswegatchie a few weeks ago may also have cut off the culvert as a possible escape route for live fish.

People say the walking trail is a little less popular these days. They say the stench from these fish is really something on a warmer day.

Local wildlife is also getting in on the act, pecking and tearing at the dead fish.

“Some days it’s overwhelming. We’ve actually had to quit walking the trail for a few days because you couldn’t stand breathing in that, that...,” said McCarthy.

From here, it looks like nature will take it’s course. But it may be a while before the Maple City Trail sees its regulars again.

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