Kills and Spills Team (KAST)
Thirty Years of Investigating Fish and Wildlife Kills and Pollution in Texas
By Cindy Contreras
Resource Protection Division
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
From 1958 to 1997 Texas Parks and Wildlife investigated over 4500 incidents of pollution or kills involving fish and wildlife. The leading cause of kills was low dissolved oxygen. Two-thirds of the losses were caused by human activities. The greatest single cause of kills resulted from stagnant water in industrial or residential dead-end canals. Other significant human-induced factors leading to low dissolved oxygen kills are the release of pollutants into the water and the reduction or stoppage of flow in a stream. Natural causes of low dissolved oxygen include storms and drought. After dissolved oxygen, the most common causes of fish and wildlife mortality included cold fronts or freezes and harmful algal blooms.