DNR investigates common carp mortality event on Lake Orion, Oakland County

Contact: Gary Whelan, 517-242-2764 or Sara Thomas, 734-718-0474
Agency: Natural Resources

July 30, 2021

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is investigating a common carp mortality event on Lake Orion in northeast Oakland County that started during the week of July 19 and was reported by residents using the DNR's Eyes in the Field website. The only species involved is adult common carp, and the number killed thus far is between 250-500 fish. 

Fisheries Division staff from the Waterford office visited the lake July 23 and collected common carp samples for analysis. These samples will be analyzed by the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Michigan State University. The DNR expects some initial findings to be available during the week of Aug. 2, with a complete set of results by first week of September. The DNR will make the final results known to the public when available.
"Typically, when you see single-species mortality events, the cause is usually a specific fish pathogen and is often a virus," said Gary Whelan, Fisheries Division Research Program manager. "Fish kills involving one type of fish are usually not associated with a water quality issue, as water quality issues affect the entire fish community. In this case, the affected fish are common carp which are very tolerant of poor water quality. Thus, it is even more unlikely to be a water quality issue."

Common carp, native to Europe, were introduced to Michigan in the late 1870s-1880s as a food fish and were widespread in Michigan by the 1890s. They are a naturalized member of our fish community and are found throughout the state.  

The DNR reminds the public that viruses and bacteria that affect fish are not typically human pathogens due to the differences in body temperatures between fish and humans. It is strongly recommended that all freshwater fish be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to consume. For more information on choosing and eating safe fish, visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish

Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download.

Common carp - Lake Orion: A dead common carp floats on the surface of Lake Orion in Oakland County, Michigan. (Photo submitted by Susan Yoder via the DNR's Eyes in the Field website.)

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to Michigan.gov/DNR.