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MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Protest Horrific Live-Composting of Fish & Turtles at Lakemont Park

MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Protest Horrific Live-Composting of Fish & Turtles at Lakemont Park

Altoona, Pa. (November 5, 2020) — Demonstrators gathered at Lakemont Park yesterday to urge officials to end the needless killings of fish, turtles, and other aquatic animals. Hundreds of locals have banded together to form Save the Fish at Lakemont to prevent the deaths of thousands of water-dwelling animals from a project to drain and dredge the lake with all the animals still trapped inside. International nonprofit In Defense of Animals, which represents over 250,000 supporters, has now stepped up to boost the campaign.

As the world awaited election results on November 4, activists held a peaceful protest at the corner of Logan Boulevard and Park Avenue. They were there to raise public awareness about the plight of struggling animals in the Blair County lake to save their lives.

Public outcry continues to grow as more residents discover cruel plans to kill the animals as a byproduct of the dredging project. In just two days, over 600 people joined a Facebook group to save the fish, turtles, and amphibians struggling to survive in the drained lake. 

Demonstrators gathered at Lakemont Park on Tuesday to save animals from dredging 

Photo: In Defense of Animals

Thousands of fish are currently trapped in shallow water near the dam at Lakemont Park. The Intergovernmental Stormwater Committee plans to dredge the lake to comply with federal and state regulations to prevent excess silt from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

The County of Blair and the Intergovernmental Stormwater Committee, which is in charge of the project, have as yet failed to halt work or announce their plan to save the trapped aquatic animals. Workers at Lakemont have now started to install sediment barriers and it seems the project is moving forward amid the controversy and dying animals.

“Blair County citizens are rightly horrified and outraged by the dredging deaths at Lakemont Park,” said Lisa Levinson, of In Defense of Animals. “It is sadly ironic that aquatic animals are being killed to support noble efforts to preserve the wellbeing of animals downstream in the Chesapeake Bay. Intentional cruelty to animals is a felony crime. Composting animals alive must stop immediately. Blair County Commissioners must stop this horror now and work with In Defense of Animals and local activists to create a temporary holding pond for the fish.” 

Fish started dying from lack of oxygen when workers first drained the lake. Images documented by residents show hundreds of fish crammed into shallow muddy water with their bodies partially exposed in the air. Some of the animals are estimated to be more than 20-years-old.

Recent rains raised the water level and temporarily improved conditions for all aquatic animals. But without urgent action, more animals will die. Activists have documented dying fish such as common carp, bluegill sunfish, and largemouth bass. 

Common snapping turtles and Eastern painted turtles are hibernating in the mud. Amphibious animals will also be unfortunate victims of the short-sighted dredging project. 

The lake and spillway are now under lock and key with gates and barricades. Activists are seeking permission from both the Blair County Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to create a smaller holding pond. This pond within the lake would house the remaining animals temporarily until the dredging is complete. Fish could survive since water would continue to flow from the feeder stream into and through the holding pond. 

“The odor of the water below the lake would make you gag,” said activist organizer Mark Conrad. “The lower water became putrid from dead, decomposing and dying fish. Dead animals likely suffocated to death due to low oxygen content from decomposition in the water. This will happen again as the weather warms and the water lowers. We ask Blair County Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to urgently agree to create a holding pond, which is a win-win solution for everyone. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do.”

 

Concerned citizens are urged to contact the following officials:

Blair County Commissioners Office, (814) 693-3030

Pennsylvania State Representative, Lou Schmitt, (814) 946-7218

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Southcentral Division Sergeant Brian Chitokas, (717) 486-7087

PA Fish and Boat Commission Biologist, Ben Larson, (814) 359-5228

Images - available for use with credit per filename: http://bit.ly/LakemontPix

Join the Save the Fish at Lakemont Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3500607833354329 

Contacts:

In Defense of Animals, Lisa Levinson, lisa@idausa.org, 215-620-2130
Save the Fish at Lakemont, Mark Conrad, markconrad1961@hotmail.com, 814-515-5093  

 

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org

Save the Fish at Lakemont is a grassroots group of people united to save aquatic animals facing destruction at Lakemont through education, direct outreach, and peaceful protests. 

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