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Month-long Raquette River pike die off remains a mystery

RAQUETTE LAKE - A mass die-off of Northern Pike in the Raquette River throughout the month of August remains a mystery.

According to DEC Region Five Fisheries and Watershed Manager Bill Schoch, dozens of dead pike were spotted floating down the Raquette River by fisherman throughout the month of August.

The unknown species-specific affliction persisted throughout August, but has apparently disappeared.

"We got somebody out there when we got the report and they saw dead pike. It wasn't a hundred, but was scores, which was definitely unusual," Schoch said. "They were all too decomposed to figure out what caused it."

Although the fish were too decomposed to be sent to Cornell University for analysis, when only a single species is affected it drastically narrows down the potential causes.

"If it's one species, then it's a virus or some disease specific to that type - unless it's a spawning stress, but this was the wrong season for that," he said. "If it's killing all species, then it's a water quality issue that is non-selective."

Schoch said that DEC is monitoring the Raquette River Pike population, but no observations of unusually high mortality have been observed in September.

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