Louisiana replaces thousands of fish lost to hurricanes

Louisiana
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DERIDDER, La. (AP) — More than 40,000 fish have been put into a southwest Louisiana lake to replace some of those lost to a fish kill caused by last year’s hurricanes, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Monday.

The department said it added 22,000 bluegill and 50 pounds of threadfin shad to Bundick Lake last week and is also coordinating work to add more fish to the lake near DeRidder in Beauregard Parish.

“Now is a great time for us to get these quality fish into the lake because some of them will begin spawning soon, and many of the fish we are getting from the hatcheries are large enough to spawn this spring,” district biologist manager Sean Kinney said in a news release.

The lake is known for abundant sport fish. But Hurricanes Laura and Delta dumped in leaves, trees, branches and other organic debris. As that decomposed, it used up oxygen in the water, and large numbers of fish died.

The hurricanes hit southwest Louisiana about 15 miles and six weeks apart — Laura in August, Delta in October.

The department also has put about 1,200 Florida largemouth bass, 8,000 red-ear sunfish and 10,500 white crappie into Bundick Lake. It said it began restocking the inland lake in the fall, using fish from its freshwater fish hatcheries.

“As luck would have it, Inland Hatchery biologists had several ponds remaining to harvest from the 2020 crop, and we had some surplus fish,” said hatchery biologist manager Kristi Butler.

Hurricane Laura also pushed saltier water and vegetation into a pair of brackish lakes further south, causing stenches in Lake Prien and Lake Charles and a fish kill in Lake Charles. They’re directly connected to the Gulf of Mexico, so tides gradually washed out the debris and fish could swim in from the Gulf.

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