Ela Sanctuary pond dries up, leaving behind fish kill

Tracks lead to dead fish, probably carp, in the Audubon’s Ela Sanctuary pond near Connected Lakes.

One of the ponds at the Audubon Society’s Ela Sanctuary, next to Connected Lakes State Park, has essentially dried up in this year’s drought, with just a few inches of cloudy water, acres of cracked mud and hundreds of dead fish remaining.

It appears the vast majority of those fish are carp, not the endangered fish for which the pond is intended as a sort of nursery.

The pond, likely about 12 acres, normally fills with water in the spring as river water floods through a breach in the levee, allowing young endangered razorback suckers to enter before the river’s water levels recede again.

The fish can then grow in relative safety from smallmouth bass and other species that can prey on the young.

When the pond floods again in a year or two, the larger razorbacks can head back out to the river, according to Bob Wilson, president of the Grand Valley Audubon Society.

“Well, it really flooded last year and didn’t flood at all this year,” he said, noting the pond has been operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2004 in order to help endangered fish recover.


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