Did mosquito spraying lead to fish kill in Fern Lake? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Did mosquito spraying lead to fish kill in Fern Lake?

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LEICESTER, Vt. -

Chuck Munger says his family has lived on Fern Lake for 45 years and they spend as much time as possible outside enjoying their lakefront view. But he says the one problem they continuously have is mosquitoes.

"Well, it's just, you can't do any work outdoors," Munger said. "They are in your face, they are biting you, they cause welts. You just have to get away from them and go back in the house."

For more than two decades, the Mosquito Control District has been coming to this notoriously buggy area and spraying for adult mosquitoes. Munger says to him, there is no question the spraying helps keep the mosquito levels down.

"Mosquito truck was here last night. I try anything to keep them here longer," Munger said. "I offer them food, soda, cupcakes! Fudgsicles! Something! Stay! Leave your machine on!"

But not everyone on Fern Lake welcomes the chemical spray, and earlier this month, a neighbor reported a fish kill after finding several dozen dead fish in a shallow cove. The dead fish showed up a few days after a mosquito spray, and the state is now investigating if there is a link between the two.

State aquatic biologist Rick Levey says malathion-- a chemical component of the mosquito spray-- is in question. The Environmental Protection Agency says the chemical is toxic to aquatic organisms, including fish. Levey says, "Because the mosquito spraying is adjacent to those surface waters, we are taking extra precaution to ensure that none of the malathion is getting into the surface waters."

It's an investigation that some locals are on board with, like Tamara Riele, who does not think the mosquito spraying is necessary.

"I just think it's pretty easy; me and my husband have seven cans of bug dope-- just go outside and spray yourself down," Riele said. "And it works totally fine. You don't need this heavy-duty aerial spraying."

But the Mosquito Control District says the fish kill occurred in a no-spray zone. And the fish kill coincided with hot weather, so they believe it was more likely a factor of spawning stress with warm water. And many residents, like Munger, say there are bigger fish to fry-- like safety.

"Mosquitoes are the biggest problem," Munger said. "Now, it's a little more scary with the EEE, because just over this hill is where one of the deaths were. That's pretty scary."

The Mosquito Control District says after the fish kill, spraying was temporarily suspended, but did resume Wednesday night.

The state biologist says starting Friday, they will be collecting water samples after spraying takes place and use those samples to determine if and what chemicals are on the water's surface.

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