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DNR reports fish die-off in Fox River and Bay of Green Bay

fox river Brown County
Posted at 1:11 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 16:50:44-04

MADISON (NBC 26) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Tuesday that a large-scale fish die-off has been reported in the Fox River and lower Green Bay waters. The following information is from a news release issued Tuesday by the DNR.

According to a news release from the DNR, reports of dead fish began on June 18 and DNR began to monitor the waters on June 20. At this time, the water quality samples collected have been normal and the reason for the die-off is unknown. The DNR says it appears that the species impacted consist mostly of channel catfish, carp, and sheepshead.

dead fish
Picture of a dead fish in the Fox River in Green Bay

The DNR says the majority of dead fish have been found downstream of the De Pere Dam and into the Bay of Green Bay, but some fish have been reported as far north as southern Door County and upstream on the Fox River to Wrightstown Dam. It’s unknown where the fish originated from and is possible that strong currents and wind are pushing the fish north into Green Bay.

DNR staff continue to monitor water quality and investigate the cause of the die-off. One freshly deceased catfish was collected on Sunday, June 26, and is being tested by the DNR’s Fish Health Veterinarians. However, limited information may be gained since it was the only sample submitted. The DNR will continue to monitor for other suitable samples and submit them for testing as they become available.

dead fish fox river
Picture of dead fish in the Fox River in Green Bay

"Many of the dead fish we’ve recovered have, unfortunately, been too decomposed for testing. We need to conduct necessary disease testing to try and understand why this is happening. It’s important that anyone who finds either dying or freshly dead fish contact us immediately," said David Boyarski, DNR Northeast District Fisheries Supervisor.

The DNR is asking the public for help with the monitoring efforts.

What to look for:

  • Dying fish – fish that cannot maintain their balance or are floating on the surface but still gilling
  • Freshly dead fish – dead fish with pink gills

Only dying or freshly dead fish need to be reported at this time. The DNR asks that you do NOT handle dead or diseased fish. 

Please report any dying or freshly dead fish with an exact location or GPS location to: Jason Breeggemann, DNR Green Bay Area Fisheries Biologist; Email:; Phone: (920) 662-5480

The DNR recommends that those recreating in the Fox River and Bay of Green Bay do not handle any dead or dying fish. Humans and their pets should never consume dead or visibly sick fish. The DNR urges anglers to thoroughly cook their catch and follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety guidelines.

If shoreline owners need to remove dead fish from their property, they can dispose of them through a licensed landfill and should wear protective gloves while handling dead fish.