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Fish and bird die-off

The death of large numbers of fish and wildlife on the Great Lakes is not uncommon at certain times of the year. Several factors can cause these deaths, such as disease, toxins, spawning, and changing environmental conditions. Sudden increases in water temperatures, due to hot weather, can cause stress on fish, which in turn makes them susceptible to infections. Diseases and parasites are a natural part of our ecosystems.

Typically, dead fish and wildlife found on land are the responsibility of the landowner on whose property they are found, to remove or otherwise address at their discretion. The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry does not remove dead fish or wildlife on private property or from the lake itself. Local municipalities are responsible for collections within their parks and beaches, and home owners for their lake or river frontages.

Shoreline landowners are encouraged to clean up dead fish that have washed onto their shoreline. As a normal precaution, when handling any dead fish or animal, rubber gloves should be worn. Afterwards, hands should be washed with soap and warm water and any equipment used should be washed and disinfected with a mild bleach solution. Fish should be double bagged. Dead fish and dead birds can be placed in the organic bin, as long as it is in compostable bags and then placed inside the organic bin. For further questions on disposal in your area, please contact your local municipality.

The public should refrain from consuming sick or dying fish or waterfowl. As an additional precaution, make sure your pet does not eat dead fish or birds that have washed up on the shoreline.

Who to contact

  • If you discover a fish die-off, contact the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry at 1-800-667-1940.
  • If you suspect the fish died as a result of a spill, contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.
  • If you see significant numbers of dead birds in one location, contact the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781.

For additional information, please refer to the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry website.

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