GILLETTE, Wyo. — Wildlife managers in southern Wyoming say a failed aeration system contributed to winterkill in the Laramie Plains Lake System.
Lake Meeboer, a waterbody located about 15 miles west of Laramie long-plagued by winterkill, has succumbed to its first winterkill since 2013 as a result of the aeration system failure, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The system failed due to “unexpected complications” in February 2023 and while the complications were addressed, it wasn’t enough to prevent winterkill with snow and ice covering the lake, Game and Fish says.
“Unfortunately, the combined effect of the system failure, lack of sunlight, and dying vegetation created extremely low oxygen levels in the lake,” said Bobby Compton, Laramie Region fisheries supervisor. “When oxygen depletion is severe, fish die.”
The aeration system has been in place since 2013 after the Laramie Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited donated funding for power installment at the lake, per Game and Fish, which said that the system proved successful and prevented winterkill up until recently.
Prior to the aeration system, Meeboer Lake reportedly experienced winterkill every four to six years, Game and Fish says, despite managers using oxygen bubblers to keep certain areas of the lake free of ice while supplying extra oxygen.
This coming April, Meeboer Lake will be stocked with fingerling rainbow and Snake River cutthroat trout; Compton anticipates anglers should be able to catch fish by this coming fall.
As of March 27, Game and Fish does not believe any other significant winterkill events occurred in the Laramie Plains Lake System.