By TODD GLASSCOCK
PALO PINTO COUNTY – While water supply is chief concern for cities and towns in Palo Pinto County, wildlife living in and on area lakes have also been affected.
Most recently was a die-off of several carp and buffalo fish in Lake Palo Pinto, said game warden David Pellizzari,
Falling lake levels have caused these fish to suffer large die-offs because of low oxygen in a small portion of the lake cut off from the main body of water, he said. The lake is at 21 percent capacity.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s kills and spills team has been alerted to the die-off, he said, and they will investigate the deaths to make certain it was naturally caused.
“It’s a common thing,” Pellizzari said of die-off due to drought.
Such die-offs are a foreshadowing of what could happen if Palo Pinto or other lakes were to dry up, said biologist Tom Lang with Texas Parks and Wildlife Wichita Falls District Fisheries Office that oversees Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Palo Pinto and Lake Mineral Wells.
Possum Kingdom hasn’t yet suffered a major die-off, he said.
He added at the moment major game fish haven’t been affected at the lakes. Animals that feed on fish or aquatic vegetation around lakes are, however, losing food sources.
In the Wichita Falls area, where drought conditions have been even more severe, he said lakes have disappeared.
“We have to keep conserving water,” he said, “or this is what could happen. We’ve seen it firsthand and it is heartbreaking.”