Thunder Bay

Wildlife officials say Lake Nipigon smelt die-off won't affect local populations

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says it's been made aware of a large die-off of rainbow smelt in Lake Nipigon in northwestern Ontario, but it won't affect the fish's over population in the area.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says large number of dead fish reported in June

A mass die-off of rainbow smelt was reported on Lake Nipigon in northwestern Ontario in June, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. (Bill Steer)

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says it's been made aware of a large die-off of rainbow smelt in Lake Nipigon in northwestern Ontario, but it won't affect the fish's over population in the area.

Wildlife officials were notified in mid-June of the large number of dead fish by a concerned property owner in the area, according to the ministry. The fish were reportedly washing up on a number of the inland lake's shores, including the north end of Ombabika Bay.

The event is effectively cyclical, the ministry said in an email to CBC News, adding that it's often caused by temperature stress on the fish in spawning areas making them more  susceptible to a fungal infection, which can be deadly.

The reason these die-offs largely don't hurt the overall population is because the fungus, by-and-large, is more deadly to older smelt, particularly males.

Young smelt, particularly females, are more resilient to the infection, the ministry said.

Due to the overall lack of concern for the overall population, the ministry said it is not monitoring this die-off, but officials encourage people who observe them to contact the ministry.

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