Every year for the last 10 years Donna Fout has watched as hundreds of gizzard shad swim up Skimino Creek off the York River in southern Virginia and die.

The creek runs behind a section of Fout’s business, Williamsburg KOA Campground off Newman Road in upper York County. The unsightly pile of dead fish causes a stench, and often forces her to close a portion of the campground, the Newport News Daily Press reported.

The first year it happened, Fout recalled trying to dispose of the fish in the campground Dumpster but the garbage removal company complained and warned it would not haul the fish away in the future.

Every year since, Fout’s husband Gary has scooped the fish out of the water with a wheel barrow and placed them along the bank of the creek for the birds to eat. The fish die over several months from April to July. Fout estimated that in some years as many as 1,000 fish have died.

Fout said she and her husband have owned the campground for 30 years and the fish did not start dying until 2001 after some improvements were made to a dam at Barlow’s Pond that cuts off the creek.

Fout thinks that as a result of the changes to the dam, less water is released from the pond into the creek, which makes it too shallow to support the fish.

Campground manager Wayne Moulton said he thinks hundreds of fish in shallow water results in less oxygen in the water, causing the fish to die.

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