The lack of significant rainfall in recent months could make this winter a difficult one from Iowa’s water wildlife. Scott Grummer, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says most lakes, rivers and steams are low — presenting less than ideal conditions for fish heading into the coldest time of the year.
“The potential for anything negative happening to those fish populations is really going to be determined by what type of winter weather we get in these coming months, prior to the thaws and spring melts,” Grummer said. A severe winter, with a lot of ice cover, would leave many fish with inadequate water or oxygen. The greatest threat is to fish located in rivers.
“Going in with low flows and the potential for thicker ice covers, it’s definitely going to be more of a challenge for those populations to get through the winter,” Grummer said. “It’s just too early to tell. It’ll be determined by what kind of winter weather arrives in the coming months.”
Precipitation levels vary widely across the state. The National Weather Service reports sections of northern Iowa are up to 10 inches below normal for the year. Much of southeast Iowa is running three inches below normal, while Des Moines has received slightly above normal amounts of rain and snow in 2010.