The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 3, 2013

Investigation raises questions on Salt Fork fish kills

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — An eye-opening investigation from OETA’s Oklahoma News Report raises questions regarding a mysterious fish kill this summer along the Salt Fork River north of Enid.

ONR reporter Bob Sands and photographer Aaron Byrd chronicled the kill from Great Salt Plains Lake dam in Alfalfa County to the Arkansas River. Starting June 2, droves of river wildlife were discovered dead along the Salt Fork. Another incident was reported June 16 downstream, ONR reported.

Ponca City News photos showed large catfish beached on sandbars, attempting to escape the river.

“The fish really pooled up and looked like they were gasping for air coming to the top of the water,” area resident Tim Glaser, an eyewitness, told ONR.

Bill Wentroth, Department of Wildlife Conservation’s north central region fisheries supervisor, told ONR this incident is unusual. The Department of Environmental Quality is currently testing water samples in Oklahoma City.

Glaser told ONR the water looked different during the fish kills. Salt readings were reportedly off the scale in the naturally saline river, which is near several saltwater disposal wells.

“They are drilling real heavy out west,” Glaser said. “Just every mile has got a rig standing up on it. Just saltwater dumps is my opinion.”

Officials haven’t yet determined the cause of the summertime fish kills. According to the Tulsa World, Kay County Game Warden Spencer Grace wouldn’t speculate but described the widespread kill as “catastrophic.”  

We’re interested in the test results. Officials need to get to the bottom of this serious incident.

We strongly encourage any eyewitnesses with specific information and dates to contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-522-8039 or the DEQ complaint line at 1-800-522-0206.