Wildlife loss tallied from manure spill 2009.08.19

Written by David Green.

What’s the price of some lost wildlife?

The Ohio DNR does put a figure on everything—every last minnow found floating in a stream.

A July 16 manure spill in Chesterfield Township fouled nearly four miles of Little Bear Creek, a tributary of the Raisin River, and resulted in a fish kill that brought Ohio DNR investigators to the scene.

Steve Thompson from the DNR’s Wildlife Division said the total count came in at about 8,300 animals, including about 1,100 larger fish, 200 crayfish, 725 Asiatic clams and about 5,000 minnows. There were also some tadpoles and mussels.

His agency was nearly finished identifying the various species last week and estimated the fine for wildlife lost at $2,000. Another $3,000 would be assessed to Chesterfield Dairy for investigative costs.

“It was a pretty good size spill,” Thompson said, but he expects no permanent damage. “It should recover in a couple of years.”

Thompson was surprised with some of the fish found in the small stream.

“We ran into a lot of pike and sunfish,” he said, in addition to the more common suckers and bullhead.

There were also creek chubs—which typically grow in the eight to nine-inch range—darters and crayfish. Only a pair of carp were found.

Darters and crayfish are generally the sign of a good quality stream, Thompson said.

He isn’t familiar with the invasive Asiatic fingernail clam that’s entered Lake Erie like the zebra mussel.

“They have a free swimming stage in their life cycle and they migrate,” he said, explaining their presence in Fulton County.

Thompson said the DNR assigns a monetary value by considering the price Fish and Wildlife would have to pay to replace the animals. The value is adjusted every six to eight years.

Pike, for example, are value somewhere in the $2 to $3 range where minnows are a penny or less. Game fish such as bass and bluegill drive up the cost of a fish kill.

In this case, the fine would have been larger if more crayfish had been counted.

“Crayfish don’t float and the water was too dark to see them,” Thompson said. “If we had been able to count the crayfish, that would have increased the cost considerably.”

Dina Pierce of the Ohio EPA said last week her agency is still investigating the manure spill and hasn’t yet concluded if further action or enforcement will be needed.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017