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Answers to Fish Kill at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre

Hundreds of fish have turned up dead within the past week at the park's pond.
Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- Ed and Jean Stefanovich routinely take walks through Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre. While walking past the park pond last week, they were shocked by what they saw. "It was something I would describe out of a spooky movie. You saw all these dead fish floating on the water," said Mrs. Stefanovich.

Hundreds of fish, mostly carp, littered the city-owned pond. The fish kill resulted in a call to DPW crews to begin removing the fish carcasses. The question was what caused the fish kill? "As soon as I saw the fish I said to myself the pond isn't deep enough, too much ice and not enough oxygen," said Mr. Stefanovich.

That's exactly what a Wilkes-Barre spokesperson confirmed Monday afternoon following a city health department inspection. It's also not the first time something like this happened at Kirby Park. The Department of Environmental Protection has been summoned in the past for fish kill problems. "When there's a heavy frost and freeze, the pond freezes over, dissolved oxygen can't get through, can't spread throughout the water so essentially the fish are denied oxygen," said DEP Regional Spokesperson Colleen Connolly.

Despite so many fish found dead at Kirby Park, there is still hope that the pond could be a healthy home for fish this spring. "There's nothing in the water to prevent the fish from living, multiplying and breathing and be able to live in their natural habitat," said Ms. Connolly. That would mean you'd also see fishing return to the park pond. "You'll still get catfish. There are still fish in there. Maybe this was a good thing because maybe it was too overpopulated," said Mr. Stefanovich. Wilkes-Barre DPW crews will remove more dead fish as the carcasses surface at the pond.

Eyewitness News left a voice message with the PA Fish & Boat Commission Monday afternoon to find out to what degree the pond is stocked, but the call was still unreturned by the end of the afternoon.

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